Despite Crisis, Americans Still Like Facebook

Bospar, the boutique PR firm that puts tech companies on the map, revealed new polling on how Americans feel about Facebook and its PR crisis.  This news comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.  Zuckerberg and his company are facing criticism after Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users.  While the company knew about the leak in 2015, it never disclosed the news to the public until March 17, 2018, when the New York Times and the Guardian broke the story.

Was that too long to wait?

Bospar teamed up with Propeller Insights this month and asked over 1,000 American adults how long is too long for a company to wait to respond to a crisis.  Over one in three Americans (34.9 percent) said 24 hours; that was followed by 48 hours (29.3 percent), 72 hours (15.8 percent), a week (9.7 percent), a month (4.6 percent), a year (1.9 percent), and two years (3.9 percent).

When Americans were asked to name which tech companies they like, Facebook came in third, with 66 percent of Americans saying they like the social network, followed by first-place Google and second- place Microsoft.  While most Americans (54.8 percent) said they didn’t trust Facebook, they did say they expected to keep using the product and expected the company to grow.  Google, meanwhile, was the most trusted tech company surveyed, with 77.7 percent of Americans saying they trusted the search engine company.

Bospar and Propeller Insights asked Americans about which companies had the best crisis response.  Americans’ first choice was Apple admitting in December 2017 that the company slowed down old iPhones. That was followed by Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal and a dog dying in a United Airlines’ overhead compartment.  The least admired crisis response was Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal data breach of 150 million in April 2018.

“It’s hard to believe it, but there is good news for Facebook in these results,” said Curtis Sparrer, Bospar principal.  “Our research with Propeller Insights shows that although Americans’ trust with Facebook has been fractured, they will continue using the social media platform.  We also have noticed that when asked to rank the best crisis response, Americans picked the crisis that was most in the rear-view mirror, meaning Facebook has an opportunity to make amends with its users. The critical test the company now faces is regaining the public’s trust.  To do that, Facebook and its executive team need to provide more than just answers, but genuine contrition.”

“One might think that older age groups would be less trusting of tech companies,” said Gabrielle Ferdman-Ayala, Principal of Propeller Insights.  “However, with 82 percent of Gen Xers and 68 percent of Boomers saying they trust Google, it’s clear that this shouldn’t be assumed. What we do see is that when their confidence is broken, these older groups are less forgiving, which might explain why their trust in Facebook is under 50 percent.  Millennials offer a glimmer of hope for Facebook.  With trust and affinity for Facebook highest among this age group, transparent solutions from the social network would go a long way among this key demographic and help the company weather the storm in the long run.”