Consumers don’t online observe each other, they also closely watch companies and authorities “and they share what they see,” according to the findings of the report from the Ericsson ConsumerLab.
The survey, conducted during the second quarter of this year, covered 5,025, iPhone and Android phone users aged between 15 and 69. The respondents came from Berlin, Chicago, Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Sao Paolo, Sidney and Tokyo.
“By sharing more information than ever, consumers increasingly act like citizen journalist and just over half of the smartphone users surveyed believe that sharing information and opinions online has increased their influence over companies,” according to Ericsson. “Consumers feel that they are able to pressure industry and authorities to change in beneficial ways.”
Far from being a dire warning for businesses and governments, the survey actually suggests that the existing environment presents opportunities for companies and authorities to better connect and improve interactions with the customers and constituents. The findings can also be used as additional information for organizations developing policies around privacy and security.
The survey found that 70 per cent of all smartphone users personal photos regularly. As many as 69 per cent also read or view other people’s shared content.
On the topic of perceived wrong doings of businesses and government authorizes the survey found:
- 34 per cent of smartphone users who had a bad experience with companies said they usually share their experience online
- 27 per cent of respondents repost, on a weekly basis, other people’s negative comments about a company
- More than half of the respondents believe being able to express their opinions online has given them greater influence
- 54 per cent believe the Internet has increased the ability of whistleblowers to expose corrupt and illicit behavior by organizations
- 37 per cent believe online sharing of information about a corrupt company is more effective than going to the police
Smartphone users also see some benefits in sharing information with businesses. The survey found that 40 per cent of smartphone users would personal information with businesses in exchange for personalized and improved services.
All this freedom to share has raised some serious concerns:
- 64 per cent of respondents would like to be able to stop negative information about them from circulating online
- 46per cent would like some form of online verification to determine the veracity of online postings and news clips
- 1 in 2 respondents said protecting personal information should be a top political agenda
With the growing sharing culture, the sharing of rumours is increasing rapidly. This could cause individuals or organizations to be blamed by mistake or lead to sensitive information being published in headlines across the Internet.
“…there is also a risk that people will start monitoring each other to the extent that it becomes detrimental to society,” the report said.
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