Majority (52%) says they’re More Concerned about Online Privacy than they were a Year Ago

Around Six in Ten feel that Social Media (63%) and Search Engines (57%) Have Too Much Power

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  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, May 17th, 2018 — More than half (52%) of internet users around the world are more concerned about their online privacy than they were a year ago, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in 25 economies around the world. Further, a majority believes that social media (63%) and search engines (57%) have too much power.

Perhaps given the recent media focus on issues of data ownership and data breaches, a majority (52%) says that they are more concerned about their online privacy compared to a year ago, with growing concern being the greatest in the Latin American countries (63%) and the Middle East/Africa (61%). Among those who are more concerned about their online privacy, three quarters (74%) say that internet companies contribute to that growing concern – second only to cyber criminals (81%) and ahead of other internet users (66%), one’s own government (63%), companies in general (61%), foreign governments (58%) or employers (48%). Interestingly, those in the United States (78%) are most likely among the countries polled to point to their own government as a source of rising concern, and are among the most likely (83%) to say that internet companies specifically are a source of this growing concern.

Global internet users also express a high-level of distrust of social media platforms, search engines and internet technology companies with 63% of respondents claiming that social media has too much power. Those in emerging markets such as Nigeria (84%), Egypt (81%) and Kenya (79%) are most like likely to agree that social media has too much power, while residents of Russia (40%), Japan (47%) and Poland (49%) are less likely to say so. Six in ten (62%) Americans – where Facebook was recently in the hot-seat with Congressional leaders – believe that social media has too much power, and this data was collected prior to the public revelations of the data breach at Facebook, suggesting that this belief could be more strongly held in the wake of the media attention paid to the issue. Six in ten (58%) Canadians feel social media has too much power.

Given the acknowledged power of these online tools, it is not surprising to hear the degree to which they have an impact on the attitdues and behaviours of those polled. Specifically, 42% believe that social media influences their political point of view – more so than search engines (39%), online apps (35%) or online advertisments (32%). Those living in Indonesia (69%), India (68%) and Egypt (63%) are most likely to say that social media influences their political views, while those in Russia (21%), Japan (28%), Germany (28%), Poland (28%) and Great Britain (29%) are less likely to say so. Moreover, a considerable proportion of global internet users claim that social media makes their life less efficient (37%), harder (29%), or worse (30%) than it would have been otherwise.

Social media isn’t the only online source that many people believe wields too much power. A majority (57%) also believes that search engines are too powerful, and half feel the same way about online apps (48%) and online advertisemnets (49%). Search engines in particular appear to have the greatest degree of influence on internet users, most predominantly on what websites they visit (64%), the news they see (60%), the media sites that they visit (58%), what they purchase online (56%), what applications they use (54%), and where they go during their day (43%).

Finally, in response to this increasing concern and distrust of the internet, many around the globe are changing their behaviours online, a trend with economic and societal implications. In fact, around one in ten global internet users are making fewer online purchases (12%), closing social media accounts (10%), or are using the internet less often overall (7%), compared to one year ago.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Madison Cox
Communications Advisor, Global Security & Politics
+1 519 721 7441
[email protected]

For Ipsos:
Darrell Bricker, PhD
CEO, Global
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]

This survey was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (“CIGI”) between December 29, 2017, and March 5, 2018. The survey was conducted in 25 economies—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States—and involved 25,262 Internet users. Twenty-one of the economies utilized the Ipsos Internet panel system while Tunisia was conducted via random-digit telephone dialing, and Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan utilized face-to-face interviewing, In the US and Canada respondents were aged 18-64, and 16-64 in all other economies. Approximately 1,000+ individuals were surveyed in each economy and are weighted to match the population in each economy surveyed. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points. For those surveys conducted by CATI and face-to-face, the margin of error is +/-3.1, 19 times out of 20.

About CIGI

We are the Centre for International Governance Innovation: an independent, non-partisan think tank with an objective and uniquely global perspective. Our research, opinions and public voice make a difference in today’s world by bringing clarity and innovative thinking to global policy making. By working across disciplines and in partnership with the best peers and experts, we are the benchmark for influential research and trusted analysis. More at:

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of Canadian American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.
Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, Ipsos Public Affairs is the polling partner for Global News. Internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.
Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.
Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

The author(s)
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs