**On June 3, 2019, the New York Times announced that the U.S. Government will be increasing scrutiny of the big four tech companies. At this stage, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission will be looking into potential antitrust violations committed by Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
Originally published on May 15, 2019, our survey revealed that trust in all four of these companies is already low. Though antitrust and consumer trust are quite different, it is interesting to see the government diving into formal oversight at a time when trust for these companies is much lower than the baseline for all companies. We will be on the lookout for how government scrutiny will further impact trust in Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.**
Big tech has played a starring role in the trust crisis. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all made headlines for breaches of trust, ranging from data leaks to fake news, fake reviews, planned obsolescence, tax breaks, employee protests, poor working conditions, and leadership scandals. Commonly called the “big four” tech companies, they are constantly under scrutiny, even as their products and services shape our economy and our daily lives, at work and at home.
So what’s the net-net on trust? How much trust in the big four tech companies do we actually have, and what is the trust delta between them? To find out, TrustRadius recently conducted a survey of 883 professionals who were researching business technology on our website. We asked them whether or not they trust Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google–and for those they don’t trust, to explain why not.
Here’s how the big four rank, based on the percent of respondents who said they trust the company:
- Google (29%)
- Apple (27%)
- Amazon (25%)
- Facebook (5%)
Google, Amazon, and Apple are clearly more trusted than Facebook (by 5x or more). But really, all four businesses are doing poorly in terms of trust.
For context, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reports overall trust in business is at 56% this year, up from 53% last year. It’s in the gray neutral zone–public opinion is not strongly trusting or distrusting. That’s not a great place for business to be, but it’s better than the distrust found in media and government (which scored 47% and 48% respectively).
None of the big four tech companies came close to that 56% trust benchmark for business. They are even less trusted than government and media.
Fewer than 1 in 3 professionals trust Google and Apple. Only 1 in 4 professionals trust Amazon. Only 1 in 20 trusts Facebook. While trust in business may generally be neutral in 2019, when it comes to big tech there is decided distrust among professionals. (This may be a problem for tech businesses more broadly. Our own B2B Buying Disconnect study revealed the trust gap is as wide as ever among professionals buying and selling business technology. Only 11% of professionals who bought business technology in the last year said the vendor representative they worked with was very trustworthy.)
More than 2 in 5 professionals do not trust any of the big four tech companies
When asked, “Of the big 4 tech companies, which ones do you trust?” 43% of respondents chose “None of them.” On average, the rest trust just 1.5 out of 4.
Source: April 2019 poll of 883 professionals on www.trustradius.com
Why don’t they trust these big tech companies?
Here are some of the reasons professionals gave for not trusting big tech in general:
“because they put their profits over and above their customer/consumers/society”
“political agendas, failure in data privacy”
“how they treat the employees; feels like a big brother”
“Use our data in negative ways we probably cannot imagine and they will not share”
“All big tech companies abuse privacy laws without repercussions. They say privacy is their biggest concern, but what they really mean is they want to protect it so that only they can choose how to abuse it.”
“They have a history of shady business practices and complete disregard for user privacy.”
“Too much revenue generated from my data.”
“More focused on their bottom line than protecting data and privacy of their users.”
“I don’t believe they operate in society’s interest.”
“They all do shady things and I have zero control over my data. They’re so big they’ll do what they want, regardless of the user.”
“Why do I have to ‘trust’ them? I mean, what ways should I trust them? Do I trust them with my life? No. Do I trust them with my money? No. Do I trust them that their products work? What choice do I have in that?”
“Their business model is a black box.”
“Never trust anyone who is super-powerful and filthy rich.”
Our respondents expressed these and many other concerns. Though not all respondents see eye to eye–some base their trust more on business practices, others more on the impact and utility of products/services in their own lives–all the reasons they gave map to at least one of the four pillars of trust as defined by the Edelman Trust Barometer:
- Ability: The perception that the organization is good at what it does.
- Integrity: The conviction that it is honest.
- Dependability: The expectation that it will keep its promises.
- Purpose: The sentiment that it is trying hard to have a positive impact on society.
Edelman Trust Barometer shows high trust companies outperform their sector
Wondering why growing doubts about ability, integrity, dependability, and purpose matter when big tech is so, well, big?
Trust isn’t just a nice-to-have–it’s also a predictor of how well a company’s stock will perform. Based on Edelman’s analysis of stock prices in 2018, high trust companies beat the rest of their sector by 5% on average.
Whether you’re a customer, an investor, an employee, or a competitor, keep trust in mind as you evaluate where these companies are headed, and how you expect them to do in the future.
Though Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are market leaders, their low trust ratings do not bode well long-term. You’ll see them invest more time and resources in trying to make up the trust deficit, through philanthropy, ad campaigns, etc. Already though, politicians in Europe, and to some extent, the U.S., argue that more legislation needs to be put in place to regulate big tech, rather than just trusting these companies to do the right thing.
If you’re interested in more research on trust issues and how they affect your business, check out the results of this recent poll on which social media platforms professionals consider to be trustworthy sources of information. Or for even more on B2B trust, dig into our vault to find out whether or not tech buyers trust vendor-sponsored case studies, and how reviews and case studies can work together to cement trust.