A majority of Americans (55%) familiar with issues raised by Facebook “whistleblower” Frances Haugen’s testimony in the Senate think brands should stop advertising on the social media platform. Ad Age and The Harris Poll surveyed 1,014 people in the U.S. last week, following the former Facebook data scientist’s testimony in which she said the social giant harms children, sows divisiveness and undermines democracy in pursuit of rapid growth and "astronomical profits."
According to Ad Age, the Harris Poll survey explored public opinions on a variety of issues, including the risk brands may encounter from Haugen’s testimony. Nearly eight in ten poll respondents (78%) said brands should be concerned about ads appearing next to negative content on websites or apps. Moreover, more than half (54%) said that they associate a brand with the unrelated content placed in proximity to ads on social media and websites. “Brand safety” is one of the top issues facing advertisers, who worry about their ads showing up near harmful content in digital media.
Among other findings reported by Ad Age, nearly two thirds (63%) of Harris Poll participants were aware of Haugen’s claim before Congress that Facebook prioritizes “making money over the well-being of its users.” Before leaving Facebook, Haugen copied thousands of pages of confidential documents and shared them with lawmakers, regulators and The Wall Street Journal.
While Facebook has denied that it prioritizes profit over safety and well-being, the poll suggests Americans believe otherwise. Roughly three fourths (77%) said Facebook was more concerned with protecting its bottom line than protecting its users.
The latest dustup over Facebook isn’t likely to cause a mass exodus of users from the platform, however. Most poll respondents (62%) said they aren’t planning to delete the app and 52% said time spent on the app is no worse for mental health than are other apps.
Meanwhile, a separate survey fielded last week by MediaPost and Pollfish found the majority of respondents believe social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are personally addictive to them, are contributing to a national health crisis and should be regulated the way alcohol, tobacco and other potentially harmful substances are. The survey, which came after Facebook’s entire network of services suddenly went offline last Monday (Oct. 4), found that 37% of Americans said it felt like they were experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms from a drug, 36% said they felt they were better off without it and 27% said it made no difference to them.