A Foolish Take: Most Americans Are Uncomfortable With Companies Selling Their Data

Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Cambridge Analytica scandal, which compromised the personal data of up to87 million users, caused many Americans to question tech companies’ data-sharing practices. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that a recent survey by Sailthru found thatthe majority of 1,000 American adults polled were “uncomfortable” with brands buying or selling their personal data.

How Americans feel about brands selling their personal data.

Data source: Sailthru. Chart by author.

Other studies confirm that growing distrust. Identity management software provider Janrain found that 53% of U.S. adult internet users didn’t want their personal data being used for targeted ads. News site Axios reported that 55% of U.S. internet users were concerned that “the government will not do enough to regulate the way tech companies operate.” A Thomson Reuters survey also found that among U.S. Facebook users who were sharing less content onsocial media, 47% cited privacy concerns.

Those numbers look bleak for companies like Facebook, which generates most of its revenue from targeted ads. However, Facebook doesn’t actually “sell” users’ personal profiles to companies. Instead, it lets brands personalize ads for certain demographics based on variables like sex, age, location, and interests.

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