By Frank Connolly
Director of Communications and Research, MindEdge Learning
In the wake of a data breach that exposed the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users, public opinion appears to be turning against the social media giant. MindEdge Learning’s recent national survey of college students and recent graduates found that a clear majority (54 percent) blame Facebook—rather than Cambridge Analytica and other firms that allegedly misused the data—for the security failure.
MindEdge’s second annual State of Critical Thinking Survey probed the attitudes of 1002 young people, aged 18 to 30, on a wide range of education-related issues. It was conducted in early April, with all but 17 interviews completed before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s highly publicized Congressional testimony.
While most of the questionnaire probed attitudes relating to critical thinking, fake news, and work preparedness, the survey included one question that addressed the data-breach issue:
There has been a lot of discussion lately about the alleged misuse of personal data from millions of online Facebook accounts. From what you’ve heard or read, which of the following do you feel is MOST to blame for this problem:
- 54 percent say “Facebook, for not protecting the personal information in the first place.”
- 29 percent say “the analytics firms that allegedly misused the personal information.”
- Another 12 percent are not sure where to lay blame.
- 4 percent volunteer some other response, including: No one; Users/consumers; Politicians; and Both Facebook and the analytics firms.
Respondents in the Northeast are most likely (61 percent) to blame Facebook, while those in the South are least likely (50 percent) to do so. But for the most part, responses to this question are quite consistent, with only minor variances by gender, age, and educational level.
What does all this mean for Facebook? The most popular social media network in the world is responsible for the personal data of about 1.8 billion active users. While the company has faced fierce criticism over its handling of privacy issues, it is too early to tell whether this issue will lead to a significant loss of business.
Still, there’s no question that Facebook is looking at a significant problem right now—both in terms of public opinion and the political climate in Washington. What’s not clear is whether those problems will persist in the long term. Will the #deleteFacebook movement really catch fire? Check back in a year.
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