Privacy concerns, high-profile scandals and proposals to break up high tech monopolies has taken a toll on the reputations of Facebook, Google and Apple.
Once the darlings on the Harris Poll that measures the reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the United States, familiar technology giants have seen their reputational numbers slide this year. Apple went from number one in 2012 to 32nd this year. Google went from eighth to 28th in the same period. Facebook fell the furthest from 51st in last year’s list to 94th.
Amazon bucked the trend, but still fell from first last year to second. Microsoft rose two spots to ninth. The most impressive upswing was by Samsung that climbed 28 rungs to 35th. Sony scrambled up 21 spots to 31st.
Wegmans Food Markets claimed the top spot this year. Patagonia and L.L. Bean moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively. Other rising reputations were 21st Century Fox (up 21), Home Depot (up 14), Procter & Gamble (up 12) and LG Corporation (up 10). Mildly surprising gainers included JP Morgan Chase (up 11) and Royal Dutch Shell (up to 10).
In addition to Facebook and Google, the companies with the biggest reputational dents in their hoods included Tesla Motors (down 39), McDonald’s (down 29), Target (down 23), Nike (down 23), Chick-fil-A (down 18), Comcast (down 13) and Sears (down 9).
Facebook’s slide from grace undoubtedly is linked to last October’s bombshell that hackers may have absconded with data from 30 million uses of the popular social media site. News since then hasn’t been much better. More concerns about unreported efforts by Facebook to monetize user data and a disclosure about a pending multi-million dollar fine connected with privacy.
"What was driving a lot of that decline was how Facebook became misaligned with American society,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema told USA Today. "Big Tech sort of became front and center as a societal fear.” Harris has found 69 percent of Americans regard privacy of data as extremely important. Only 15 percent of respondents think Facebook does enough to protect user personal information.
Apple had its privacy day in the court of public opinion when it was discovered the FaceTime App could be used for eavesdropping. Google suffered problems with its Chrome browser and disinterest in Google+.
Gerzema credited Wegmans topping the list because of “its ability to build an experience and a community in its stores.” He said companies such as Patagonia and L.L. Bean saw rising reputations because of their “commitment to social values.” “It is important for companies to understand how important values are today,” he said.