Facebook has spent much of 2018 on the defensive.
The revelation that Cambridge Analytica had mined millions of users’ personal data set off a wave of fury and a call to #DeleteFacebook.
The company’s struggles to contain misinformation, fake profiles and organizations, and other ill-intentioned uses of its platform – and what it plans to do about them – have kept it in the spotlight as bad news piles up.
It’s no wonder that Facebook’s ACSI score dropped 1 percent to a 67 this year, perilously close to the bottom of the industry. According to users, Facebook has by far the worst privacy protection in social media.
But despite the media focus, privacy protection isn’t Facebook’s only problem. Users also said the company’s navigation and video speed is poor and its content is stale. Its advertising is the most intrusive of any social media site by a wide margin, users say.
What’s interesting is that users gave Facebook’s amount of advertising a lower score than its privacy protections.
That mirrors a trend across the entire social media industry. What’s worse? Lack of privacy protection or too much advertising?
How other social networks fared in privacy and advertising
Some of Facebook’s woes extend across the entire social media industry. Social networks’ ability to protect privacy declined for the second year in a row to tie its all-time low of 71.
But the customer experience factor that social media users were least satisfied with is the amount of ads. This measure dropped 1 percent year over year to an all-time low of 68.
The scores for those particular factors shaped satisfaction for the highest and lowest-scored social media sites.
The top ACSI scores in social media this year belong to Pinterest (80), Google+ (79), and Wikipedia (77). All scored well in privacy protection and amount of advertising.
Pinterest and Google+ tied for the best privacy protection in the industry, with a score of 78. Users rated Pinterest’s advertising on par with Wikipedia, which has no ads, while Google+ received the best customer satisfaction score for its amount of advertising.
Facebook did not have the lowest ACSI score among social media companies; its 67 narrowly beat out LinkedIn and Twitter, which tied for last place with a score of 66.
In terms of privacy, Twitter and LinkedIn join Facebook at the bottom of the heap, with LinkedIn narrowly in front of Twitter, but trailing all other social networks. Facebook was in last place by a wide margin, sinking to a 61 for privacy.
Users ranked Twitter above average for its amount of advertising, while LinkedIn is in second-to-last place, beating only Facebook, which again trails by a significant margin at a score of 59.
Why users are less satisfied with advertising than lack of privacy protections
Privacy protections are certainly a concern, and their return to their all-time low shows that users care about how social media companies guard their data.
But privacy concerns are often in the back of users’ minds, stirred up only when a breach or violation of that privacy occurs.
Advertising, however, is in users’ face every time they log on. It seems that some of the biggest social media companies are still working out ways to seamlessly integrate advertising and find the right balance of advertising and content.
While most consumers are used to commercials interrupting TV shows or radio broadcasts, it seems they’re still unsatisfied being inundated with ads while looking at pictures of their grandkids or sitting through a commercial before a YouTube video.
That Facebook, the largest social network by monthly active users, reflects these problems more vividly in its scores and recent controversies makes sense. What remains to be seen is if it can dig itself out of this hole and find a path to better customer satisfaction.