Four in Ten (39%) Canadians Changed Their Social Media Behaviour (28%) or Stopped Using some Platforms (11%) Over Data Privacy Concerns

Only Three in Ten Trust Facebook (33%), Twitter (28%) to Protect their Personal Information and Not Use it Without Explicit Consent

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, April 10, 2018 — Four in ten (39%) Canadians have either changed their social media behaviour or stopped using some platforms entirely over data privacy concerns, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News. Three in ten (28%) Canadians say that over the past few months they have been careful about what they post on social media because they are worried that someone they don’t know may have access to information about them. Taking it further, one in ten (11%) say that they’ve stopped using some social media platforms because they don’t trust what those platforms are doing with their personal information. Nearly half (46%) have not changed their behaviour, while two in ten (16%) Canadians say they’re not users of social media platforms.

Men (13%) are significantly more likely than women (8%) to have stopped using some social media platforms, whereas Albertans (18%) are more likely than those living in Atlantic Canada (14%), Ontario (13%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (10%), British Columbia (7%) and Quebec (4%) to have done this.

Likely fueled by recent news of recent widespread data breaches at social media companies, and the unconsented use of their data for targeted advertising, eight in ten (85%) Canadians agree (42% strongly/42% somewhat) that they are very worried about the privacy and the security of their personal information, led by Boomers (91%) more so than Gen Xers (81%) or Millennials (81%).

While most (85%) also agree (46% strongly/39% somewhat) that they think that internet advertising is annoying, a majority (67%) also agree (26% strongly/41% somewhat) that it’s an invasion of privacy.

In light of recent events, attitudes and behaviours towards social media appear to be evolving:
• Three quarters (72%) of social media users agree (30% strongly/43% somewhat) that they have recently reviewed the privacy settings on their social media platforms to ensure their personal information is protected.
• Nine in ten (88%) social media users agree (50% strongly/39% somewhat) that it bothers them that someone could use their personal information found on social media platforms to send them advertisements that try to make them change how they feel about political issues.
• A similar proportion (88%) of social media users agree (48% strongly/40% somewhat) that it bothers them that someone could use their personal information found on social media platforms to send them advertisements that try to make them buy products and services that they may not need.

Many appear resigned to the fact that their online behaviour will inevitably impact what advertisements they will be exposed to: nine in ten (87%) agree (42% strongly/45% somewhat) that when they search for something on the internet they know that the will see an advertisement about the same subject within a few days.

When it comes to the degree of trust that Canadians have in social media and other internet companies to protect the personal information that they have about users and to never use that information for any purpose without explicit consent, it appears that Canadians have the least amount of faith in some of the world’s most-used platforms. The chart below demonstrates the degree to which Canadians trust these platforms to safeguard their information, with comparisons made to government:



% Trust (a great deal/somewhat)

% Do not trust (at all/not very much)

Your bank

89% (41%/48%)

11% (3%/8%)


69% (18%/51%)

31% (9%/22%)


65% (13%/53%)

35% (6%/28%)


63% (13%/50%)

37% (10%/27%)

Federal government

60% (15%/46%)

40% (12%/28%)

Your provincial government

59% (14%/45%)

41% (12%/29%)


40% (5%/35%)

60% (19%/41%)


33% (5%/29%)

67% (32%/34%)


28% (4%/24%)

72% (29%/43%)


Interestingly, trust in one’s own provincial government to protect their data is highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (67%), followed by Alberta (63%), British Columbia (61%), Quebec (59%), Ontario (56%) and Atlantic Canada (51%).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 3 and 5, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Sean Simpson
Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2002

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 fourth 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.
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Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,782.7 million in 2016.

The author(s)

  • Sean Simpson Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs