FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND WHATSAPP RIDE HIGH ON POPULARITY WAVE DESPITE OUTAGES AND WHISTLEBLOWING CLAIMS

Facebook, the social networking giant hit by the global outage on 4 October and whistleblower claims of wilfully putting users in danger in pursuit of “astronomical profits,” may have a reason to smile if a recent study’s findings are to be gone by.

The second edition of the Global Prepaid Index, released by Ding — the largest provider of international mobile top-up — has revealed that trust in social media remains high despite misinformation and online abuse.

The report, which also covers the economic outlook and attitudes towards cryptocurrency and neobanks, is based on more than 6,250 responses collected from all over the world — Brazil, Germany, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

If they agreed with the statement “I trust the social platforms I use,” 75 percent of the respondents said yes. This trust level was highest in Indonesia (86 percent) and Nigeria (82 percent) and lowest in Germany at 54 percent.

Mark Roden, Chief Executive of Ding, said, “Despite the problematic stories dominating the news cycle at the moment, trust in social media remains high. However, social giants shouldn’t take this for granted. Challenger apps come through all the time, the most recent success story being TikTok, so apps that breach their users’ trust one time too many may find themselves dethroned in favor of a newer app.”

The survey also revealed that Whatsapp, also owned by Facebook, was people’s preferred option for staying in touch during the coronavirus pandemic in every country surveyed, barring the Philippines.

Furthermore, the Global Prepaid Index revealed that social media was deeply intertwined in people’s daily lives: 42 percent of the people surveyed said they couldn’t stay without it compared to just 17 percent of people who said they couldn’t wait a day without exercising.

Roden added on the findings of the survey, “While our survey showed that Facebook’s family of apps are viral worldwide, the outage highlighted that when they are not available, people flock to competitors like Snapchat or Twitter. Social media users can move fluidly between platforms and adapt quickly to change. For that reason, Facebook needs to respond proactively to both technical issues that caused the outage and cultural and ethical issues raised by the whistleblower.”

Trolling and online abuse

And while many speak of the horrors of online abuse and trolling, many users responding to the survey revealed that it was an unavoidable reality.

According to the Global Prepaid Index, Facebook is the platform where most abuse or harm is encountered at 62 percent, followed by Whatsapp at 50 percent and Instagram at 42 percent — all apps owned by Facebook.

Roden said, “It seems that people will potentially tolerate abuse online as the various social media platforms have become so vital to their lives — citizens may see it as a necessary evil, but if these allegations are proven, governments will likely be pushed to regulate social platforms more directly.”

The survey also showed that most people were feeling optimistic about their country’s economy after the pandemic. Despite apprehensions of cybercrime, more people are embracing cryptocurrency and neobanks at record rates.

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