‘Online giants have bad impact on society’

‘Online giants have bad impact on society’

Almost three-quarters of farming families believe tech giants such as Facebook and Google have a negative impact on society.

The latest Irish Examiner/ICMSA opinion poll found that 72% of respondents believe these social media giants had a negative impact, including 43% who said they strongly agreed with the statement.

Just 11% of respondents disagreed.

Those aged over 65 were most likely to have a dim view of companies such as Google and Facebook and of their impact on society (79%), but even among the youngest cohort, those aged under 35, 68% believed the tech giants were not a positive force.

This comes amid increased scrutiny of social media companies and their methods. Just this month, it emerged that Facebook had lost 300,000 people from its Irish user base in the last nine months.

Earlier this year, the Data Protection Commissioner said 16 cases were targeting technology companies, including Twitter, Apple, LinkedIn, and Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram, and, subsequently, the same office said it would investigate whether Facebook had breached EU data protection laws over how it stored users’ passwords.

Internationally, this month, it emerged that phone numbers linked to 400m Facebook accounts had been listed online in a privacy lapse.

Antoin Ó Lachtnáin of Digital Rights Ireland said it might now be impossible for social media companies to regain previous levels of public trust.

“One thing is clear from this — social media is no longer seen as a harmless toy,” he said.

“It is seen as something that is powerful and something that can do harm as well as good.

Of course, farming families continue to use these platforms. But there is going to be a reticence and a lack of trust.

“And the loss of trust just reflects a reality — the tech giants are not selling us a product. Instead, they are selling us as a product.

“They use our data to sell our attentions, and even our prejudices, to paying advertisers. It will be hard, or impossible, for the tech giants to regain this trust.”

Google and Facebook did not provide comment in response to requests from the Irish Examiner.

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