The illusion of consumer choice is as American as apple pie. Most Americans apparently just don’t know that truth also extends to the tech sector.
Leading non-profit public opinion research organization.” Pew Research Center released a new report Wednesday measuring the digital literacy of American adults across topics like cybersecurity and the tech industry. Called the Americans and Digital Knowledge report, the results were pretty dismal: a majority of respondents could answer fewer than half of the ten (for the most part very basic) questions correctly.
One question concerned Facebook’s sprawling business interests. Pew asked survey respondents whether they thought that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp (it does). Just 29 percent of people surveyed correctly answered in the affirmative — meaning that over 70 percent of Americans don’t know that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.
That’s not the most stable foundation of public knowledge for any potential future anti-trust inquiries into Facebook’s ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp.
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Rather than being misinformed, however, most Americans are actually under-informed. While 22 percent answered incorrectly, nearly half – 49 percent – responded that they were “not sure” whether Facebook owned Instagram and WhatsApp.
Pew says that this result indicates that people’s use of social media is out of joint with their understanding of the companies.
“We found that even as a majority of American adults use Facebook, they aren’t that knowledgeable about some aspects related to the business side of the company,” Monica Anderson, Pew’s associate director of research, told Mashable. “Only around 20% correctly identified WhatsApp and Instagram as two companies owned by the company. And around half reported being unsure. So there is relatively low levels of familiarity with the co