Consumers overwhelming say privacy concerns are starting to have them rethinking rethink how they interact online.  At the same time, however, their actions are telling a slightly less convincing story.  People say one thing to researchers, but their actions demonstrate something else.

A third of those surveyed think digital is having a “negative effect on their health and quality of life” in a new study of 43,000 people from Dentsu Aegis Network and Oxford Economics as reported in Mediapost.

Other key findings:

  • 72% say they are limiting their digital activities
  • 24% have installed ad blockers
  • 12% have turned off a social media account
  • 60% say social media has had a negative impact on political discourse
  • 64% said misuse of personal data is the #1 reason for distrust of the tech industry
  • 75% of US consumers say they would stop doing business with organization that lost some of your data or used it irresponsibly.

Dentsu 1

And Yet…

Still, two-thirds say digital overall has a more positive than negative impact. And, people are more comfortable doing online shopping, using apps for banking, watching streaming media, read digital books, or listen to music… and plan to do it more.

Dentsu 2

Has It Hurt Companies?

Two-thirds say they would stop doing business with companies that lost data or used it irresponsibly.  Yet, that didn’t happen to Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the exposure of 30 million accounts.  When news broke, stock prices took a 26% drop.  So far this year, however, the stock has surged 28% making up for any losses and then some.

It didn’t happen to Wells Fargo after millions of mortgage documents were exposed.  Wells Fargo had to pay the largest fine in history from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of complaints over – in part – misuse of consumer data.  Despite a $1 billion fine and a significant drop in stock price, consumer deposits continued to grow.  It doesn’t appear consumers have stopped doing business in large enough numbers to even make a dent.

If you run down the list of the biggest breaches and misuse of data from 2018, it appears that few – if any – have had massive defections from customers.  Yes, companies may have lost value, paid fines, and lost some customers… but it’s nowhere near the 75 percent of people that say they would leave.

Privacy Versus Convenience?

With the sentiment about usage, negative impact, and distrust for tech companies, you have to wonder if we are hitting a tipping point… or if the convenience of using digital will outweigh the problems.