Survey Says (Sort of)

A PC Magazine email promoting its net-neutrality poll was headlined: “Survey Reveals Americans Fear ISPs Over Facebook and Google.” Well, yes and no, but mostly no.

Turns out their poll, promoted in concert with the net neutrality day of action last week, found that when respondents were asked which represents the biggest threat to their online privacy, ISPs were No. 1 one with 25%. But Facebook was No. 2 at 24% (statistically a tie). In addition, “Facebook and Google” combined would be No. 1 with a combined 43% saying they were the biggest threat. And had there been a collective category for “edge providers,” as there was for ISPs, Facebook, Google and Amazon (another 10%) would have totaled 53% to ISPs’ 25%.

When millennials were asked about the biggest privacy threat, Facebook was the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it).

In a state-by-state breakdown, in 15 states the plurality of respondents picked ISPs as the top online privacy threat, while edge providers Facebook, Google and Amazon combined were the top threat by a plurality in almost twice as many states — with the NSA cited in a half a dozen.

So, another possible headline for the survey might have been: “Survey Reveals Americans Fear Edge Over ISPs.”

One bit of a head-scratcher in the poll: a majority (54%) either disagreed with “the concept” of network neutrality (22%) or didn’t even know what it was (32%).

Data was compiled using Google Surveys of 1,000 U.S. consumers from Feb. 7-9, 2018.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.