Trust in tech companies falls globally

The tech sector has suffered the largest loss of trust according to a large global survey: The Edelman Trust Barometer 2020.

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Tech companies such as Twitter are hoping to reverse a large loss of trust in their sector.

Tom Foremski

Trust in technology companies suffered a big drop across 28 countries and was the largest loss across all industries except entertainment according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 report.

The survey of 34,000 people across 28 countries, found broad mistrust in all four main sectors of society: business, government, media and non-governmental organizations.

This is the 20th year of the Edelman Trust Barometer and is commissioned by Edelman, the largest private PR company. Edelman uses the results of the survey to help sell services around "Trust Management" to large clients.

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The tech sector suffered the largest drop in trust but it still remains the most trusted, followed by automotive, food and beverage, healthcare and telecommunications. At the bottom of the list is financial services. However, all sectors except technology, have shown gradual improvements in trust over an eight year period -- including financial services, which showed the best long-term improvement in trust.

The majority of respondents are worried about their jobs and believe they will be worse off in five years. More than 61% believe that "technology is out of control" and that the government is consistently late in regulating emerging technologies because it doesn't understand them.  

Fake news, misinformation and technologies that enable deep fakes has further contributed to distrust globally. However, trust in traditional media continues to rise.

Edelman says that income inequality has become a major issue for the first time in 20 years. This general anxiety about the future has contributed to 56% agreeing that the capitalist system is doing more harm than good. 

The survey found that the business sector is best placed to fight misinformation and fake news because it has the resources and it has the most to lose. But the business sector needs to improve its ethics if it is to succeed in fighting the massive loss of trust across so many countries.

Edelman says that it has learned important lessons from its Trust Management Services group and the most important is that trust in a business relies heavily on ethical behavior. Ethical drivers are three-times more important than competence to customers and employees in evaluating a trusted organization.

Detailed information is in the full report