NEW YORK—How do consumers feel about the leading social networks and how trustworthy they are in the minds of users? This is what eMarketer / Insider Intelligence attempted to find out in a recent survey asking consumers whether they believe the leading social networks do a good job protecting users’ personal information and providing a safe online environment.

According to Insider Intelligence’s annual “US Digital Trust Survey,” LinkedIn ranked as the most-trusted social platform overall. (The survey defined digital trust as the confidence users have in a social media platform to protect their information and to provide a safe environment for them to create and engage with content, according to a recent post about the survey results on the eMarketer site.

The 2020 “U.S. Digital Trust Survey” evaluated consumer perceptions of the major social networks within five categories of trust: security, legitimacy, community, ad experience, and ad relevance. The resulting ranking of the nine popular platforms — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube was based on how respondents perceived these networks along those five pillars of digital trust.

The online survey received 1,865 U.S. respondents ages 18 to 74 and ran from May 28 until June 3, 2020.
“We found that Facebook was the least-trusted social media platform regarding data privacy,” eMarketer reported. “Nearly one-third (32 percent) of U.S. Facebook users at least somewhat disagreed that they had confidence in the platform to protect their data and privacy. Just 10 percent of LinkedIn’s users said the same of the professional network.”

A majority (53 percent) of U.S. Facebook users at least somewhat agreed that the platform protects their data and privacy, but this was the lowest share of respondents among all platforms measured.

LinkedIn and Pinterest ranked highest when it came to confidence in their ability to provide security. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of LinkedIn users and 66 percent of Pinterest users at least somewhat agreed that the respective platforms protect their privacy and data. LinkedIn and Pinterest have each received very little media attention related to data privacy issues, which likely contributes to their more positive perceptions among users, according to the eMarketer analysis.

Digital trust is important for brands and advertisers to consider because U.S. social users say it impacts whether they will interact with the ads they see on social platforms. In fact, 79 percent of respondents said whether a platform protects their privacy and data was either extremely or very impactful when it comes to their decision to engage with ads, according to the eMarketer post.