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Fewer Canadians trust big tech companies like Twitter, Google: Index

UVic’s Gustavson School of Business has found that the pandemic has accelerated the trend of distrust in major social media platforms.

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Twitter was Canada’s least trusted brand before Elon Musk considered owning it, and University of Victoria business dean Saul Klein doubts the imminent takeover of the social media platform by the billionaire helps him.

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“I’d be surprised if this actually had a positive effect on people’s trust in Twitter,” said Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business at UVic and lead author of the annual Trust Index. school.

The index ranks over 400 well-known brands based on consumer confidence in a company’s quality; values ​​or authenticity; how it treats customers or affinity; and the extent to which consumers would recommend its products.

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And overall trust becomes a more important metric, Klein argues, in a “goal-driven economy” – people value this authenticity and affinity as much as the quality of products or services.

“It’s a compelling foundation because it feeds into the changing expectations of society as a whole, of consumers, employees and investors, all of whom are asking questions about how they spend their time or money,” and if companies “do more positive things.

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So on Twitter, Musk pledged to turn the social media platform into a less constrained bastion of free speech, removing some of the tools that protected against the promotion of false and inaccurate information that eroded public confidence in the platform. , says Klein.

“It’s not going to increase trust, it’s going to increase the levels of polarization that we’re already seeing,” he added.

The big names in tech in general, whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Google or Amazon, all score poorly on Gustavson’s Trust Index because they’re perceived to be too powerful, even if they have become more ubiquitous.

“It’s been a steady decline over the last four or five years, and it’s accelerated during the (COVID-19) pandemic,” Klein said, “and it’s interesting because it’s obvious that consumers increasingly used these brands.

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“We see all social media brands doing very poorly,” including WeChat, WhatsApp and Instagram, he added.

In a relative sense, traditional media has always outperformed social media platforms on the index, but Klein said generally all media loses elements of trust.

The Gustavson Index not only measures loss of trust, Klein said, it also identifies brands that are gaining trust and changing trust over time.

“Historically, trust was about very tangible characteristics,” Klein said. “Is a brand reliable, is it of good quality, good value for money?

Over time, however, “the more relational dimension started to become more important,” Klein added, as brands communicate honestly and fairly with consumers, resolve issues gone wrong, and perceptions about whether do consumers trust them to protect their privacy?

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On this front, the Gustavson Index ranked RBC, Mastercard, BMO and Interac as the most trustworthy when it comes to data. Huawei, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook were rated the most suspicious when it comes to private data.

In the overall rankings, the Canadian Automobile Association, Band-Aid, Costco, Home Hardware and Lego were among the top companies trusted by Canadians.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed how important the “relationship dimension” has become, with the speed with which companies ceased operations in Russia or severed ties with Moscow.

“In the first two weeks (of war), 500 or 600 global brands pulled out of Russia, and I think they were doing so in response to pressure from those three key stakeholder groups,” Klein said.

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And to the extent the government wants to make social acceptance, the so-called environmental, social and governance, ESG factors, a key selling point for economic development – ​​particularly in Colombia’s resource sector – British – the index also offers lessons.

Positioning British Columbia as a more environmentally responsible and responsible place to do business “could have a positive impact down the road,” Klein said.

“The argument we make as a business school is that for too long companies have understood that there’s a trade-off between doing the right thing and being successful,” Klein said.

He argues the opposite, that focusing on the values ​​side of the business is going to be rewarded, with the corollary that consumers are also susceptible to greenwashing.

“While we find that, on the one hand, consumers are more demanding, they are also questioning more about what they are hearing,” Klein said.

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