The CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey, now in its fifth year, is the world’s largest and most comprehensive survey of internet security and trust, involving more than 25,000 internet users in over two dozen countries across North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.
Conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), in partnership with the Internet Society (ISOC) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the survey provides invaluable insight into the views of internet users on a wide range of topics — from online privacy, social media and fake news to blockchain, cryptocurrencies and the Dark Web.
2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey Highlights
1. Social media companies were second only to cyber criminals when it came to fueling online distrust.
- In the 2019 survey, social media companies emerged as the leading source of user distrust in the internet — surpassed only by cybercriminals — with 75% of those surveyed citing Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as contributing to their lack of trust.
- People from Canada and Great Britain, at 89%, were the most likely to point to social media as a source of their distrust, followed by Nigeria (88%), the United States (87%) and Australia (83%). People from Japan (49%), Tunisia (60%), Hong Kong (63%) and Korea (64%) were the least likely to do so. Almost nine in ten (88%) North Americans who distrust the Internet cited social media as responsible for their distrust, the highest proportion out of all regions surveyed.
- While cybercriminals, cited by 81%, remained the leading source of internet distrust, a majority in all regions (62% globally) indicated that a lack of internet security was also a significant factor — up significantly from 48% in 2018.
2. More than half of those concerned about their online privacy say they’re more concerned than they were a year ago.
- Eight out of 10 (78%) people surveyed were concerned about their online privacy, with over half (53%) more concerned than they were a year ago, marking the fifth year in a row that a majority of those surveyed say they feel more concerned about their online privacy than the previous year.
- Fewer than half (48%) believe their government does enough to safeguard their online data and personal information, with the lowest confidence levels in North America (38%) and the G-8 countries (39%).
- Citizens around the world are increasingly viewing their own governments as a threat to their privacy online. In fact, more people attributed their online privacy concerns to domestic governments (66%) — a majority in nearly every region surveyed — than to foreign governments (61%).
- While 73% said they wanted their online data and personal information to be stored in their own country, majorities in Hong Kong (62%), Indonesia (58%), Egypt (58%), India (57%), Brazil (54%), and Mexico (51%) said they wanted their online data and personal information stored outside of their country. In contrast, only 23% of North Americans, 35% of Europeans and 32% of those in G-8 countries shared this sentiment.
3. A majority admit to falling for fake news at least once — citing Facebook as the leading source — and want both governments and social media companies to take action.
- 86% said they had fallen for fake news at least once, with 44% saying they sometimes or frequently did. Only 14% said they had “never” been duped by fake news.
- Facebook was the most commonly cited source of fake news, with 77% of Facebook users saying they had personally seen fake news there, followed by 62% of Twitter users and 74% of social media users in general.
- 10% of Twitter users said they had closed their Twitter account in the past year as a direct result of fake news, while 9% of Facebook users reported doing the same.
- One-third (35%) pointed to the United States as the country most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their country, trailed significantly by Russia (12%) and China (9%). Notably, internet users in Canada (59%), Turkey (59%) and the United States itself (57%) were most likely to say that the United States is most responsible for the disruptive effect of fake news in their own country, while users in Great Britain (40%) and Poland (35%) were most likely to point to Russia, and users in Hong Kong (39%), Japan (38%) and India (29%) were most likely to blame China.
- A majority of internet users around the globe support all efforts that governments and internet companies could take to combat fake news, from social media and video sharing platforms deleting fake news posts and videos (85%) and accounts (84%) to the adoption of automated approaches to content removal (79%) and government censorship of online content (61%).
4. Distrust in the internet is causing people to change the way they behave online.
- Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said their distrust had caused them to disclose less personal information online, while 43% reported taking greater care to secure their devices and 39% said they were using the internet more selectively, among other precautions.
- Conversely, only a small percentage of people reported making use of more sophisticated tools — such as using more encryption (19%) or using technical tools like Tor (The Onion Router) or virtual private networks (VPNs) — to protect themselves online.
5. Less than half of global citizens express at least some degree of confidence that any of the algorithms they use are unbiased, in any context.
- Among those surveyed, confidence was highest in the algorithms used for facial recognition systems (47%) and search engines (46%), and lowest in algorithms used for social media news feeds (32%) and predictive policing (34%).
- The most common reasons for a lack of confidence in the unbiasedness of algorithms were a lack of transparency, a perception that they are exploitative by design and the absence of a human element from decision-making. By contrast, objectivity, a lack of human emotion to cloud decision-making and the absence of human influence were most frequently mentioned by those who expressed confidence in the unbiasedness of algorithms.
6. While terms like “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” are seemingly ubiquitous, the internet’s new frontiers remain a mystery to most — although there’s a growing divide between the developed and developing worlds.
- Well under half of survey respondents said they were even somewhat familiar with cryptocurrencies (36%), the Dark Web (24%) or blockchain (22%).
- However, nearly seven in 10 people familiar with blockchain technology believe that it will affect every sector of the economy (68%), that it should be implemented as widely as possible (67%), and that it will have an impact equivalent to the advent of the internet (67%). These beliefs were most prevalent in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and Middle East/Africa regions, particularly in China, where more than 8 in 10 agreed with these statements
- One in 10 (12%) admit to accessing the Dark Web, with higher percentages in India (26%), Russia (22%) and Brazil (21%), with online anonymity (39% overall; 55% in North America) being the most commonly cited reason for usage.
- Two-thirds (66%) of global citizens — a majority in every country surveyed — believe that the Dark Web should be shut down. However, this number is down from 71% in 2016.
- In addition, a digital divide was evident between the world’s developed and developing economies when it came to cryptocurrencies and other new internet frontiers, with those surveyed in Latin America and the BRICS nearly four times as likely to use or purchase cryptocurrencies within the next year as those in North America, Europe and the G-8.
Download the full survey results here:
The 2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey was conducted between December 21, 2018, and February 10, 2019, and involved 25,229 internet users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.
For Researchers: Please use the following citation for references to the survey and its data: CIGI-Ipsos. 2019. “2019 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust.” www.cigionline.org/internet-survey-2019.