US Consumers Don’t Trust Advertisers to Use Facial Recognition Responsibly

September 24, 2019

The vast majority (86%) of US adults are aware of the existence of facial recognition technology, per a new report from the Pew Research Center. The study also found that about three-quarters (74%) of adults believe that facial recognition is at least somewhat effective at identifying individual people.

More than half (56%) of the 4,272 US adults surveyed for the report have at least some trust in law enforcement to use facial recognition responsibly. But how do they feel about technology companies and advertisers using this kind of technology? The results aren’t promising.

First off, nearly 6 in 10 respondents who have heard of facial recognition (n=3,722) either do not have too much trust (35%) or have no trust at all (23%) in technology companies using facial recognition in a responsible manner. Additionally, more than three-quarters of respondents say they either do not have much trust (40%) or have no trust at all (39%) in advertisers using the technology responsibly.

Conversely, only 3% of respondents say they have a great deal of confidence in advertisers to use facial recognition responsibly and only slightly more have the same positive trust in technology companies (6%).

Technology companies have already tarnished their trust with consumers for misusing personal data and advertisers do not hold the best reputation in the eyes of the public, at least as far as trust and ethics are concerned. Moreover, the advertising industry does not amass positive feelings from most Americans. So it isn’t too surprising that respondents have a low level of trust in advertisers using the technology they believe can accurately identify an individual person as well as assess their gender and race.

While consumer attitudes toward facial recognition in areas like advertising and marketing seem to be slowly progressing from ‘creepy’ to ‘cool’, more than half (54%) of the Pew Research survey respondents say that they do not think it is acceptable for advertisers to use facial recognition to see how people respond to public display ads.

Find more on the study here.

About the Data: Data in this report are drawn from the panel wave of 4,272 respondents (of which 3,722 has heard of facial recognition) conducted June 3 to June 17, 2019.

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