Posted December 15, 2008 1:46 pm by with 10 comments

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Is Google Evil? Jordan talked about this last month. At the time, one of Google fanboys’ top arguments was that Google was rated among the most trusted companies in surveys by the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, they no longer feel the that way.

In their report released today, not only did Google fall out of the top 10 most trusted companies, but it didn’t even crack the top 20. To no one’s surprise, many financial companies took a major hit, as well. 

With privacy concerns higher than ever, surveys like these provide great insight into who consumers trust these days. Only 45% of consumers feel they have control over their personal information.

So who are the new faces among the top 20? Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, Verizon and FedEx all made it for the first time. Meanwhile, American Express, eBay, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nationwide and Charles Schwab, all managed to retain their top 10 rankings.

American Express held the number 1 position for the fourth straight year. The report has only been running for five years now.

As I’m sure many of you are wondering (I know I am)—why did Yahoo! crack the top 20 and Google didn’t?

“Google (and Microsoft) suffer from big brand syndrome,” Ponemon Institute said. “People figure that if you’re big and collecting data, there might be an issue.”

Funny how it takes an economic crisis for people to finally make these assumptions about Google. I guess the rest of us are just ahead of the curve.

It is also interesting to see a company like Facebook make it into the top 20. With all of the personal information available on Facebook, consumers trust the company enough to continue to publish it. Ponemon believes this is a result of Facebook giving users more choices as to how their information is shared.

“It shouldn’t be binary, where you either reveal a piece of data to everyone on the Internet or Facebook or not at all,” he said. “We think people want to share more information, but they want choices.”

The New York Times posted the chart below that compares 2007’s top 10 versus 2008’s rankings.

  • How is it possible that Apple stays in that list when they try to urge people using Mac or Windows (don’t understand why a phone needs iTunes to start working), why it wants my credit card (I don’t have any) although I am not going to buy something in their just-click-here-shop, when they try to prevent me from using my own mp3 as ringtone or when they put encrypted firmware on their iPods?

    Martin Wildam’s last blog post..The sad thing about linux…

  • coldbrew

    The fact that eBay made it into this list, at #2 no less, makes me quite skeptical. Perhaps their detractors are just more vocal online? I believe there is more to this story, and it probably can be found by digging into TRUSTe and the Ponemon Institute. Maybe some journalist will bother, or maybe I’ll have time this evening.

    Why aren’t these survey organizations asked to provide the script given to people deploying the surveys? How are the questions are asked and in what order is very important, among other things.

  • coldbrew

    Ok, I promise to proof read before I submit 🙂

    So, I went to TRUSTe’s site and found their premier sponsors on this page:

    I think it is both relevant and interesting to look at the list of companies there.

  • No surprise for that at all. Everyone is seeing that they use more and more their monopole position without any view on others at all.

  • I’m not surprised Google have dropped out. They seem to becoming a victim of their own success in this respect, in that they’re getting bigger and bigger and branching more. But the down side of that is that everyone that uses them becomes more sceptical about how their information is getting used.

    I am surprised that eBay are that high up though. Although I have the impression that they’ve been trying to ‘clean up’ their image this year. I can’t remember specifics, but I remember hearing about them in the news doing things to get rid of rogue traders etc. So perhaps that impression has stuck in the mind of consumers which is why they’re so high.

  • Us in the search industry have realized that Google moved to the dark side when they became profit obsessed. Their everyday user base is finally catching on.

    John Lessnau’s last blog post..Posts about Affiliate Marketing as of December 17, 2008

  • I think google has far too much access to a lot of information that becomes a real concern to me. The problem is in a lot of cases I think they are fully within the law. For example one concern is now people keep health records on google, combined with their search history and email this seems like a huge database of information on individuals. Why wont the gov go to google like it did with the phone companies and simply give immunity like they did for the phone companies?

  • They deserve.

  • Hmmm… I agree completely with the “Big Brand” syndrome.. and, speaking just from personal experiences, I’ve noticed more and more people buying into this whole “Google is taking over the world” mindset… poor sods, trying desperately to gather information to make things more efficient and convenient for users and they end up losing the trust of those users as a result

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