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Over 90% of Australians lack understanding of how leading apps use data

Source: Roy Morgan privacy survey in June 2018 with 967 Australians aged 14+.
An in-depth study by Roy Morgan into Australian attitudes towards privacy in the online world shows that while Australians are concerned about how their personal data is being used (see more here), they lack understanding of how different apps use their data.

Over 90% of Australians are either ‘not sure’ or only ‘somewhat understand’ how several leading apps use and/or share their data.

94.6% of Australians using Apple apps are either ‘not sure’ or only ‘somewhat understand’ how Apple uses or shares their personal data – higher than any other specific brand mentioned in the survey.

Following closely behind are leading social networks including Twitter (94.3% of Twitter users), Instagram (94.0% of Instagram users), Snapchat (93.7% of Snapchat users), Messenger (92.8% of Messenger users), Google (91.9% of Google users) and Facebook (90.9% of Facebook users).

Generic ‘Other’ apps fare even worse with 95.8% of Australians who use ‘Other’ apps ‘not sure’ or only ‘somewhat understanding’ how these other apps use or share their personal data. 94.4% of users of smart home devices and 94.1% of users of online sales apps are also ‘not sure’ or only ‘somewhat understand’ how these apps use or share their personal data.

Question: “You mentioned earlier that you have used these services in the past 12 months. Please indicate your understanding of how they use your data: ‘I’m not sure how they use and/or share my data’, ‘I somewhat understand how they use and/or share my data’, ‘I believe I full understand how they use and/or share my data’.”

% of Australians who are either ‘not sure’ or ‘somewhat understand’ how they use and/or share my data

Concerns about online privacy by Social Media company - July 2018

Source: Roy Morgan privacy survey in June 2018 with 967 Australians aged 14+.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says Australians’ concerns about how social media and technology companies use their personal data doesn’t mean Australians are confident they ‘fully understand’ how these companies use/and or share their data:

“The issue of data privacy online has been running hot for some time now since it was revealed British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had ‘harvested’ tens of millions of Facebook users’ accounts to precisely target advertising to help elect US President Donald Trump.

“However, despite the concerns raised about the potential misuse of personal data whether financial, medical, location data, purchase/transaction data, browsing histories, political preferences, sexual orientation, phone contacts, personal photos or other personally identifiable information, only a tiny minority of Australians (between 5-10%) believe they ‘fully understand’ how companies such as Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Google ‘use and/or share their personal data’.

“Over half of users of Apple, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Messenger say they aren’t sure how these companies use and/or share their personal data. It appears the media scrutiny on Facebook is having some impact as only 39% of Facebook users say the same about the ubiquitious social network – the lowest figure for any of the leading social networks measured in the study.

“The pressure on Facebook has yielded a result of sorts with Facebook launching worldwide advertising campaigns to argue they are doing something about the problems of ‘fake news’, ‘fake accounts’, ‘clickbait’, ‘spam’ and ‘data misuse’ – with the campaign ‘(Insert here) is not your friend’.

“It remains to be seen whether Facebook’s campaign to restore their image will be successful but what we do know is that the best way to get ahead of problems revolving around privacy concerns and issues of trust and distrust is to tap into the extensive Roy Morgan Single Source data based on in-depth face-to-face interviewing of over 1,000 Australians per week, and over 50,000 per year.

“Roy Morgan’s latest survey into trust and distrust reinterviewed a representative sample of reveal social media companies have a poor image in Australia with 47% of Australians distrustful of social media companies whereas retail companies, charities and travel companies perform well as the top sectors on Net Trust Scores (NTS).

“In Australia all other companies and brands are chasing successful German discount supermarket retailer ALDI which is currently Australia’s most trusted brand on a Net Trust Score basis.”

Roy Morgan interviewed a representative sample of 967 Australians drawn from Roy Morgan’s Single Source panel of over 600,000 Australians to conduct this research into Australian concerns about privacy in conjunction with Crikey for their investigative series named ‘Prying Eyes’.

For more information on the results of the survey and a report providing a detailed view of the findings from this study into privacy in the digital world please view the Privacy Report here:,-Political-and-Social/Privacy/Privacy-Report.aspx

The study of 967 respondents looked at how often people read and accepted the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions when engaging online with websites and apps for social networks such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat as well as online shopping sites, financial sites, medical and health services sites, online news and newspaper sites and Government sites.

The report looks in depth at how people protect their data and information and their attitudes to companies and governments using their information and sharing with third parties.

Detailed analysis by age, gender and geographic region are included in this report.

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