20 years of Facebook, but trust in social media remains at an all-time low


February 2024 marks Facebook’s 20th anniversary. Although the brand is well established around the world and in our everyday lives, only 6% of people trust it and other social media companies with their personal data.

In a survey of 12,000 people around the world, the Thales Digital Trust Index 2024 found that trust in social media companies is lowest in Japan (2%) and the United Kingdom (3%).

Brits are the nation most wary of social media companies, with 26% going so far as to say they would not be happy to share personal information with these companies. This is compared to just 14% globally.

Conversely, American citizens trust social media companies the most (10%).

Social media data practices need to change

Javvad Malik, lead security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, said Information security“With the continuous number of violationsData abuse and abuse have occurred (and continue to occur) at social media providers, so it’s no surprise that people don’t trust these organizations to protect their data.

In 2023, Meta received a Fine of €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) by the Irish Data Protection Authority (IE DPA) following an investigation into its Facebook service.

Malik pointed out that people still use these platforms and almost resign themselves to the fact that things are this way and there’s not much they can do about it.

Talk to Information security about the Thales report, Charles Howes, CEO of a digital marketing company Klatchsaid these findings highlight the urgent need for a recalibration of priorities in the social media landscape.

“To rebuild trust, social media companies must prioritize transparency, accountability and user empowerment,” Howes said. “First, transparency is essential; Users deserve clear and comprehensive explanations regarding data use, content moderation policies, and algorithmic processes. Accountability follows closely, requiring rapid and fair responses to issues such as misinformation, harassment and privacy breaches.

He also stressed that it was crucial to foster collaboration with regulators, civil society and academia.

It’s also critical that social media providers not only offer tools that can help people better understand the options and control they have over their data, but also make those features easily available and understandable, Malik said.

“Otherwise, in many cases, people are unaware that they have options,” he added.

Users should regularly review and adjust privacy settings on Facebook and other social media platforms to control who sees your posts, personal information and profile details.

The broader landscape of digital trust

Thales found that the most trusted sectors were critical sectors like banking (44%), healthcare (41%) and government services (37%). Thales emphasized that these are highly regulated industries that deal with very sensitive data.

More than four in five people (87%) expect some level of privacy rights from the companies they interact with online.

Seamless digital experiences are also non-negotiable and 80% of customers expect a digital onboarding experience.

The survey suggests that Japanese customers are the most impatient when it comes to their digital interactions, with 15% giving up on frustrating online experiences after less than 30 seconds (compared to 9% globally).

Recommendations for increasing digital trust

The Thales report makes six recommendations for companies to introduce certain controls into the process to maintain the balance between security and user experience. These include:

  • Risk-based authentication
  • Keywords and passwordless authentication
  • Progressive profiling
  • Bring your own identity
  • Management of consent and preferences
  • Modern customer identity and access management (CIAM) solutions

“Ultimately, trust is not earned easily or regained quickly. This requires sustained efforts, true transparency and a willingness to listen and adapt. As Facebook enters its third decade, it is imperative for all social media companies to prioritize trust-building initiatives to ensure a safer and more responsible digital environment for all users,” commented Howes .

Meta was contacted for comment by Information Security Magazine but no response has been received at the time of writing this article.

Image credit: Alexey Boldin / Shutterstock.com

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