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Americans are skeptical Facebook can protect user data - CBS News poll

Americans skeptical of Facebook
CBS News poll: Americans skeptical Facebook can protect user data 04:40

By Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto 

Americans say they were not surprised to learn that outside companies were accessing personal data of Facebook users, but they think Facebook's response so far has been unacceptable and believe the company could be doing more. Americans voice concern over the matter, but fewer than half say it concerns them a great deal. Most do call for more government regulation of social media and tech companies in an effort to keep their data private.

A majority of Facebook users describe their personal data as currently unsafe, in that they feel it is possibly being given to people with whom they wouldn't choose to share it. 


Looking ahead, Americans don't have much confidence in Facebook's ability to keep user data private going forward, or to stop fake accounts, or misleading information.


Six in ten Americans think the government should increase regulations on technology and social media companies to try to prevent user data from being taken – a view that cuts across partisan lines, shared by most Democrats and Republicans. Nearly four in ten Americans disagree, saying regulations could limit innovation and growth.


Just over half of Americans so far call Facebook's response to the unauthorized access unacceptable, and they feel the company could do more, though many still aren't sure about it. Only one in five says the company's response has been acceptable.


Eight in ten Americans say they are not surprised that outside companies saw and used personal Facebook data.


Americans say they're at least somewhat concerned about the fact that Facebook data was obtained by an outside company, but less than half say it concerns them a great deal.


Users describe Facebook in many ways: that it brings together family and friends (53 percent) but also brings them gossip and misleading information (48 percent); they describe it as both a fun way to communicate (59 percent) but they also find it annoying when people share too much (41 percent). Fewer than one-third (29 percent) describe it as providing good information about current events. While most say using Facebook has not changed their lives, among those users who see a change, more say it has made it better than made it worse.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg meets with lawmakers ahead of testimony 02:21

Users overwhelmingly say the main reason they use Facebook is to keep in contact with family and friends; few say the top reason they use it is to keep up on news and current events. Three-quarters of Americans say they have a Facebook account (whether or not they use it) and another 9 percent say they used to have an account at some point in the past. Twenty-seven percent say they've changed their privacy settings as a result of personal data being improperly shared, and 36 percent report using Facebook less than they used to. Thirty-seven percent say they have shared less personal data as a result. 

Eighty-one percent of users worry that other people are too quick to believe whatever they see on Facebook. Users report that they, themselves, believe very little of what they see on Facebook. One third only believe what they get from friends and family. 

The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,506 U.S. residents interviewed online between April 6-9, 2018. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education, based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2012 and 2016 Presidential vote. Respondents were selected from YouGov's opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S residents. The margin of error (a 95% confidence interval) based upon the entire sample is approximately 3 pts.
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