Google has come under fire over the past year from anti-trust issues to privacy questions. But has this questioning by the mainstream media, bloggers and politicians had an impact on people in general? A new survey finds that 63.4% in the US who use the internet trust Google as much as a year ago, climbing to an overall trust factor 78.4%, when those who said they trust it more are added in.
The survey? My own, using Google’s new Google Consumer Surveys service. While I have some issues with the service (see Is Google Letting Anyone Do “Scientific” Surveys A Good Thing?), it seemed perfect to test how people perceive Google. At the very least, I knew Google would have problems challenging the results.
I ran two different tests. The first, involving 1,500 people, asked “Do you trust Google as much as a year ago?” and allowed three responses (which were shown in a random order to each person):
- I trust Google the same
- I trust Google less
- I trust Google more
My goal with the question was to try and be as neutral as possible, not asking if Google’s gotten “more evil” or “less trustworthy” but to ask about trust generally. I also thought it was important to give people an option to say “the same” rather than force them one way or the other since, after all, some might feel they trust Google the same.
I also also curious what would happen if you did force people to make a choice. The second survey asked 1,000 people the same question but dropped the option to say “the same.” Why only 1,000 versus the 1,500 in the first question? It saved me $50, and it still gave me a pretty good sample compared to the first survey.
Most Trust Google The Same
Overall, most people trust Google the same as a year ago, with 63.4% selecting this:
Heck, recall that in January, the Washington Post ran a user poll with 66% saying they’d cancel their Google accounts. The poll was noted as being non-scientific. Clearly, it wasn’t, since no major cancellation of Google Accounts actually happened.
It’s even more good news for Google when looking at what I’d call the overall “trust score,” which are those who trust it as much (63.4%) or more (15.0%) than a year ago, a total trust score of 78.4%.
But Is Less Trust Growing?
One the other hand, the gap between the other two choices — those who trust Google less than a year ago (21.6%) and those who trust it more than a year ago (15.0%) — might be worrisome for the company.
Ideally, you’d want those who trust you less to be the lowest figure. That would indicate that you enjoy a lot of trust and that it is trending upward. Instead, the gap suggests that Google has a net loss of people who have exhibited trust in it, over the past year.
Then again, if people are forced to chose between only trusting it Google more or less than a year ago, it’s virtually even:
As you can see, 50.8% say they trust it less, with 49.2% saying they trust it more. In fact, the figures are so close that Google Consumer Surveys reports it as “too close to call.” With more responses, the “trust more” figure might slightly beat the “trust less” one.
If there were a big trend toward Google having lost trust, I’d especially have expected this survey to show it. Instead, it seems to reflect that people are mixed.
Also, if you go back to the previous gap that I mentioned, there’s the margin of error to consider. While 21.6% reported they trust Google less, the margin of error means that potentially could be as low as 18.6%. The margin of error could also take those saying they trust Google more from 15.0% to 18.0%. It doesn’t seem likely both would go to these extreme ends, but if they did, then it more closely reflects what the two-choice survey shows.
By the way, while the first survey was based off 1,500 responses, you might have noticed that the chart says 1,212 responses. That’s because I have weighting switched on, which causes Google to adjust the results to better match the age, gender and other demographics of the overall internet population.
Men Trust Less
How about a demographic breakdown? Let’s start with gender:
Men seem to have less trust in Google than women. Women say they trust Google the same (68.4%) more than men (58.1%), with most of that gap due to men who say that they trust Google less (26.6%) much more than than women do (16.7%).
Overall, the combined trust score is 83.2% for women and 73.3% for men, a ten point gap. That gap is also seen in the two-response survey, but only by about half as much:
The Young Really Trust In Google
By age, all groups are in the 59% to 63% range of saying they trust Google about the same. More interesting is looking at the groups that skewed toward trusting it less or more:
The two oldest groups, 55-64 and 65+, trusted Google far less than the younger groups. However, that’s not to say that the younger you are, the more you trust Google. Those 25-34 and 35-44 and trusted Google less than 45-54 year olds.
The youngest group of 18-24 did go for the “trust more” option much more than others, with 26.7% selecting it. Combined with those saying they trusted Google the same, it gave Google an 86.9% trust rate for that group.
When given only two choices, things fell much more along age lines. The older you are, the more likely you trust Google less than a year ago except for the 35-44 year old group:
The South Trusts Google
On a geographic basis, I felt looking at the overall trust rate (those who trust Google the same or more) was easier to digest than looking at the individual charts. But first, here are those charts:
Here are the combined scores:
- Midwest: 74.7% (58.3% + 16.4%)
- West: 77.0% (65.3% + 11.7%)
- Northeast: 78.9% (63.4% + 15.5%)
- South: 81.4% (65.2% + 16.2%)
The Midwest seems to trust Google less than the West and Northeast and much less than the South.
When given only two choices, the South again leads in having more trust for Google than other areas, by far. As for trusting Google less, the West, previously in the middle-of-the-pack, takes the top spot:
Rural Dwellers Have Less Trust
How do city dwellers, suburbanites and those in rural areas compare on the trust issue? Those in rural areas have much less trust:
By income, as with geography, I found looking at the overall trust rate easier than looking at the individual charts. But here those are, first:
Here are the combined scores:
- $0-$24,999: 82.2% (68.5% + 13.7%)
- $50,000-$74,999: 81.3% (64.7% + 16.6%)
- $24,999-$49,999: 77.2% (60.9% + 16.3%)
- $75,000-$99,999: 72.1% (65.1% + 7.0%)
- $100,000-$149,000: 72.0% (62.8% + 9.2%)
In general, the more you earn, the less trust you have in Google — with the key exception of the $50,000-$74,999 group, which bucks the trend. When given only two choices, that same group again stands out for having more trust in Google than other groups:
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