Canadians trust AI and Facebook less than politicians and media, says study

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg presentation

Canadian trust in social networks and artificial intelligence (AI) is low, according to Proof Inc.’s CanTrust Index, an annual study of trust levels among Canadians.

In fact, Proof’s study found that Canadian trust in government, leaders and most information sources remains “stable and strong” in contrast to AI and social media like Facebook, which are less accepted among Canadians.

Specifically, Proof found a 17-point drop in Canadian trust in Facebook 51 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2018, a number the firm says is consistent across all ages, gender and geography in Canada.

As well, trust in Facebook’s news feed also fell in recent years from 31 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017 and is now at a new low of 18 percent. Trust in social media platforms overall has remained in the low twenties for three years, Proof says.

In spite of the mistrust, 76 percent of Canadians still report themselves as weekly users of Facebook. Overall, Facebook says 23 million Canadians use Facebook at least once a month.

It’s important to note that the survey was conducted before news surfaced of Facebook’s involvement in Cambridge Analytica’s breach of user data, which has since caused the social network to come under significant scrutiny.

Proof CEO Bruce MacLellan acknowledged this point, stating in a press release that “though our study was fielded before Facebook’s recent privacy scandal, the company has been slow to manage this issue — which could further damage their brand and lead to a further decline in consumer trust.”

Trust levels for AI are also low, with only 38 percent of Canadians reporting that they think AI will have a positive impact on the country’s economy. Similarly, only 37 percent of Canadians trust AI to improve the customer experience.

A large number of Canadians are also undecided on AI, as 30 percent report that they neither trust nor distrust AI to have a positive impact in Canada.

By contrast, 55 percent of Canadians said they trust their company’s CEO or most senior boss the most of any leader. Even lower ranking categories were more trusted by Canadians than social media or AI, with 52 percent saying they trust the mayor the most, 48 percent favoured the Governor-General and 46 percent placed their faith in the Prime Minister at 46 percent. Premiers ranked last at 33 percent.

Additionally, while the topic of ‘fake news’ is ever present in modern society, 61 percent of Canadians say they trust the media, up from 57 percent last year.

Part of the problem may stem from the fact that Canadians don’t know what AI actually is, according to a May 2017 report by Havas.

“With the rise of the surveillance society, social media platforms and the AI sector now face a trust tipping point,” said MacLellan. “As algorithms track online behaviour, listening tools pattern the words and tone of conversations, and social media platforms share personal data, society will need to build consensus on what is acceptable and permitted.”

To compile the CanTrust Index, Proof surveyed 1,560 Canadians aged 18 and over between January 18th and February 5th, 2018.

Source: Canada Newswire

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