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Americans Wary of Facebook TikTok; Want More Privacy, Fewer Ads

Americans find online ads they see on the Internet annoying and invasive, a new study finds.

Americans do not trust internet companies with their user information and want stringent privacy laws to curb popular social media platforms like Facebook from trailing their digital footprint, a new survey finds.

Facebook operated by Meta Platforms (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report tops the distrust rankings when asked -- "How much do you trust each of the following companies or services to responsibly handle your personal information and data on your Internet activity?" 72% of respondents said they don't trust Facebook much at all. Chinese video app TikTok (63%) took the second spot followed by Instagram (50%), WhatsApp (53%), Youtube (53%), Google (47%)  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report, Microsoft (42%)  (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report, Apple (40%)  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report and Amazon (40%)  (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report.

Survey Says: More Government Control Over Social Media

About 64% of those surveyed said that government should do more to limit control big tech companies have over user data across smartphones, laptops, and other connected devices. A majority of these are Facebook users.

These findings are part of a survey conducted by news publisher Washington Post, the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

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“The fact that people continue to use Facebook doesn’t mean they like it,” Jack Goldstone, director at Center for the Study of Social Change, Institutions and Policy at the Schar School of Policy and Government told The Post.

Facebook, Google, and Targeted Ads

Users also despise targeted advertising, dominated by Facebook and Google, and find it both annoying and invasive. "More than eight in 10 Internet users said they see targeted ads at least somewhat often. Among those who see them, 82% say they are annoying and 74% say they are invasive," according to The Post.

The poll of 1,122 adults including 1,058 Internet users where respondents recorded answers both online or used traditional mail to send back the questionnaire between Nov. 4 and Nov. 22. 

Close to eight in every 10 Americans uses some safeguards to restrict technology companies from storing personal information about them, according to the poll.

A majority of respondents (57%) said they have changed privacy settings on websites, to stop third-party tracking, and 50% said they fixed or adjusted the privacy settings on their phone or apps.