This includes news, search engine results, and user reviews. The vulnerability of social media is to foreign power or hacker manipulation. Personal data isn’t always private. People are becoming more concerned about the threat of automation and artificial IntelligenceIntelligence stealing jobs.
Yet, the digital world is a place where people both rely on it and are distrustful. They don’t act as if technology is something they distrust. People are increasingly using technology in their daily lives. My colleagues and I discovered that this paradox was a global phenomenon in a recent study on trust in digital transactions across 42 countries, a collaboration between Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (where I work) and Mastercard.
People may look for other companies and systems that are more reliable if today’s tech giants do not address this growing unease. Silicon Valley’s business giants may see their boom come to an end.
Concerns include the role that technology companies play in people’s lives. U.S. Residents already spend 10 to 15 hours per day in front of a screen. One-fifth of Americans are “almost always” online. Tech companies have a huge reach and power. Every month, more than 2 billion people use Facebook.
90% of all searches worldwide are conducted through Google. Alibaba, a Chinese e-retailer, organizes the largest shopping event in the world every year on November 11. This year, US$25.3 Billion in revenue was generated, which is more than double what U.S. retail stores sold between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday in 2013.
It is a source of immense wealth. Tech firms make up all six of the top companies in the world, worth more than 500 billion. The top six companies to work at are all in tech. The tech stock market is booming in a way that reminds us of the bubble from 1997 to 2001. The industry’s reach and power will only grow as new technologies such as “the internet of things,” the self-driving car blo,ckchain systems, and artificial IntelligenceIntelligence attract investors and entrepreneurs.
The half of the world’s population is still offline. Cisco, a networking giant, projects that by 2021, 58 percent will be online, and the amount of traffic per user per month will increase by 150 percent.
All of these users will decide how much they trust digital technologies.
Data, Democracy, and the Day Job
The reasons for our collective unease with technology continue to grow. Consumers are becoming more concerned about the safety of their data. News of a data breach that affected 57 million Uber accounts follows reports of a hack of 145.5 million consumer records at Equifax and each Yahoo account. 3 billion total.
Russia managed to interfere on Facebook, Google, and Twitter during the 2016 campaign. This has led to concerns over whether digital media’s openness and reach are a danger to democracies.
The automation of workplaces is another technological threat. McKinsey estimates that workplace automation could replace one-third of the U.S. workforce by 2030. This is even if new gig opportunities are created.
It is a challenge for tech firms to operate on global markets, and that the degree to which online behaviors are affected by these concerns varies greatly around the globe.
Markets mature, and emerging markets are different.
Our research reveals some interesting differences between behaviors in different geographies. Users tend to be more trusting online in areas with small digital economies, or where technology usage is still increasing rapidly. They are more likely than others to stay on a website that loads slowly, requires a lot of steps to make an online purchase or is difficult to use. The online experience is new, and there are few convenient alternatives.
Users in these markets are less trusting and have been using social media, smartphones, and the internet for years. In those markets, users are less trustworthy, more likely to abandon sites that are difficult to use or don’t load quickly and are less willing to trust websites.
As people in mature markets are less likely to trust tech companies, I expect them to invest more in building trust in digitally matured markets. They could, for example, speed up the processing of ecommerce transactions and payments or clearly label the information sources on social media websites, like the Trust Project, which helps identify reliable and authenticated news sources.
Take a look at Facebook’s current situation. Consider Facebook’s situation. These costs would reduce Facebook’s profit.
Facebook must set priorities to strike the right balance between profit and trustworthiness. It will also have to deploy advanced technologies that build trust (e.g. Only certain geographic markets will be able to vet locally generated ads and news.