About two-thirds of Canadians don’t trust Facebook to protect the personal information the platform has gathered about them, an Ipsos poll shows.
Respondents were asked whether they trusted the popular social media platform “to protect the personal information they have about you, and to never use this information for any purpose without your explicit consent.”
Nationally, about 67 per cent of respondent said they didn’t. People were most mistrustful in Ontario, at 70 per cent, and least mistrustful in Quebec, at 60 per cent. Broadly, Canadians trusted Facebook less and less as their age, income and education brackets got higher, with 78 per cent of university graduates and 73 per cent of those over 55 mistrusting Facebook.
Facebook and Twitter were the online entities Canadians most mistrust. About a third of Canadians said they mistrusted Google or Amazon, and only 11 per cent said they mistrusted the banks.
However, fewer Canadians said they had pulled the plug completely on social platforms like Facebook. Eleven per cent said they had completely stopped using some platforms because of privacy issues, while 28 per cent said they had become more careful about what they post in recent months. Albertans were the most likely to have left a platform (18%) and Quebecers least likely (4%).
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that about 87 million people worldwide may have had their information leaked to political data mining company Cambridge Analytica. Facebook says that about 622,000 of those people are in Canada.
“There’s a dissonance between what people feel and how they behave,” says Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“It’s become an addiction for many people. Even though only three in 10 trust the social media firms to protect their data, it’s really hard to pull the plug.”
Overwhelmingly, Canadians were concerned that social media ads could be tailored to try to change their political opinions.
Eighty-eight per cent said the idea bothered them, with higher numbers in Alberta (90%) and Quebec (92%). Men, women and people in all regions of the country and from all income and educational levels strongly objected, with no group objecting by less than 85 per cent.
People tolerate having their behaviour used to target ads to them online, Simpson says – though two-thirds say it’s an invasion of privacy. But having that pattern leak over into politics crosses a widely recognized red line.
“What’s different about it now is that people’s information is being sold and given to third parties to target and manipulate the results of the election. That’s what people seem to have a problem with.”
“It’s OK to try and influence what I’m buying and selling, but when it comes to politics and people’s political views, we have a sealed ballot box for a reason.”
A Facebook spokesperson Global News contacted would not respond directly for the record.
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,002 Canadians conducted between April 3-5. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.