As a digital marketing agency, it’s essential for us to stay up to date with SEO news, tech products and services the public relies on most often, and more importantly, the public’s perception of these companies.
With this in mind, we commissioned a survey of 6,375 members of the public to find out which big tech companies they believed were having the biggest impact on society in the 21st century, good or bad, looking at factors including communication, data security, sustainability, knowledge sharing, charitable giving and overall contribution to society.
For better or worse, our survey revealed that Facebook is the company that the public perceives to have impacted global society the most in the 21st century so far, followed by Google and PornHub.
The ten most socially impactful tech companies of the 21st Century are:
These tech companies have become an integral part of everyday life for millions of people around the globe. However, when asked if big tech is having a positive or negative impact on our society, the responses were split; 28% of respondents believe companies like Google and Facebook are improving society for the better, while 31% believe they are having a negative impact. The majority of participants (41%) said they were still undecided.
Needless to say, big tech is definitely a profitable niche, making big waves in modern society.
When asked which services members of the public used the most, 91% of respondents said they used Google more than once every day (which is good news for SEOs), followed by social media platforms Facebook (86%) Instagram (76%) and TikTok (70%). Netflix was the fifth most commonly used tech service, trailing just behind with 67% of participants admitting to using the streaming service at least once every day.
The internet has made modern life more convenient than ever, but with this convenience comes the risk of an overreliance on certain services. Almost half of respondents (49%) said that they wish they didn’t rely on Amazon so much, while two-fifths (41%) said they would like to delete their Facebook account but have become too dependent on it for staying in touch with friends and family.
Our survey also revealed a lack of trust in big tech companies with the handling of the public’s personal data. Microsoft was found to be the most trusted company (18%), however the most popular response chosen by a quarter of people (24%) was that none of the big tech companies could be trusted. Even as digital marketers, knowing your SEO web hosting is proactive with their data security, is vital to doing business online.
Facebook was chosen by a third of people as being the most untrustworthy company (32%), followed by Amazon (16%), TikTok (13%) and Google (12%).
Microsoft was chosen by the majority of people (56%) as the company which has done the most good in the world, with many citing the charitable work of Bill Gates throughout his career, while Steve Jobs was voted the most influential CEO in big tech (66% of votes).
Our research also touched on sustainability, and the efforts made by big tech companies to reduce their impact on the environment. When people were asked which big tech company the thought was making the biggest effort towards sustainability, Microsoft was the most popular option, with 23% of the votes, followed by Google (19%) and Apple (18%).
Microsoft recently pledged to be carbon negative by 2030 and aims to have completely removed its historical carbon footprint by 2050, while Google has matched 100% of its electricity consumption for the last three years by purchasing renewable energy and Apple has pledged to be carbon neutral throughout its supply chain and manufacturing process by 2030*.
Google received mainly positive votes for its impact on society (57% believe so), the most popular reasons for this being the answers and information that can be accessed through its search engine and navigation through Google Maps. On the negative side, the main concerns were with the sharing of user’s personal information, followed by suspicions of spying on users and tax avoidance.
PornHub was voted the company which has had the most negative impact on society, with over half of respondents (56%) selecting it, followed by Twitter (18%) and Facebook (15%). This is in light of the Shut Down Pornhub campaign which currently has over 1.5 million signatures from around the world after serious allegations of profiting from videos of rape and child sex trafficking**.
These results could also be broken down to see comparisons between the UK and US, as well as between east coast and west coast residents in the US.
West coast residents believed most strongly that big tech was having a positive impact on society (39%), while those in the East Coast were more likely to believe that they are having a negative impact on our daily lives (45%).
Facebook received the most votes for untrustworthiness across the board, however in the US the percentage of people who don’t trust TikTok (16%) is double that in the UK (8%), while Brits are less trusting of Amazon with their personal information (19%).
The top five companies by East Coast respondents
The top five companies by West Coast respondents
The top five companies by UK respondents
Matt Diggity, founder of Diggity Marketing, said,
“We are now in the second decade of the twenty-first century and technology is advancing faster than ever. Services and products that may have been seen as gimmicky or unnecessary at the start of the millennium are now integral parts of everyday life for billions of people across the world.
“Measuring a company’s impact on society meant we had an opportunity to look at perceived good and bad aspects. It’s telling that, despite negative press around some of the top 10, these are still seen to be the companies that have done more than others to change the way we live our lives. Our study just goes to show that whatever side you sit on when it comes to companies like Facebook, Google and PornHub, their impact on society cannot be denied.”