American consumers are most frustrated with social media

Privacy concerns and intrusive ads are what consumers hate about social media these days.
2 August 2018

US consumers are getting increasingly unhappy with social media companies. Source: Unsplash

This year has been rough on social media companies, especially for Facebook.

Caught with its hand in the cookie jar, the data scandal surrounding the social media giant has seriously hampered users’ trust in the company.

In fact, Facebook is now perceived to have the worst privacy protection of any social media platform, and its ads are believed to be the most intrusive.

However, Facebook might not be the only loser. It appears as though American consumers are losing faith in social media companies altogether.

According to a recent report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), customers trust health insurers and airlines more than they trust social media companies.

Customer satisfaction with social media now ranks the lowest of the three e-business categories measured by the organization. The other two categories are internet news and opinions, and internet search engines and information.

Amongst social media sites, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn were the only ones with improved scores on customer satisfaction. Google+, Twitter, and Tumblr all saw a decline or no change in user satisfaction.

Facebook-owned Instagram and the company’s flagship site both suffered criticisms, with users reporting worse site performance, outdated content, and more intrusive ads for both sites. The tweak in Instagram’s order-feed algorithm also seems to be causing frustration among users.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s score records the worst decline as it continues to struggle with “fake accounts, bots, abusive content, and misinformation”. The rate of account suspension on Twitter has more than doubled as it ramped up efforts to combat suspicious content and remove bots.

“Privacy concerns, bots, and toxic online discourse have taken their toll on social media. But users report they’re even less satisfied with the amount of advertising on social media sites than with privacy protections,” said David VanAmburg, Managing Director at ACSI.

He explained that while privacy is important to users, it is often an issue that is on the back of their minds. Advertising, on the other hand, is very much “in their face”.

“Unlike with TV and radio, where they’re used to advertising, users don’t want to be inundated with ads while looking at pictures of their grandkids or watch a commercial before a YouTube video,” VanAmburg added.

Beyond data privacy concerns and annoyance with advertising, user experience with video also played a role in customer satisfaction. Consumers said they were unhappy with Facebook’s poor navigation and video speed.

On the other hand, users rank YouTube’s video speed as the best of all social media platforms. This is also helped by upgrades that improved live streaming on the video platform. As video content gains popularity, sites with the better video experience are expected to fare better than other social media platforms.