Americans and Digital Knowledge

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A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. Some findings:

  • While a majority of US adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging. About one-quarter of Americans (24%) know that private browsing only hides browser history from other users of that computer, while roughly half (49%) say they are unsure what private browsing does. 
  • 48% of adults correctly answered that a privacy policy is a contract between websites and users regarding how their data will be used, while 45% know that net neutrality refers to the principle that internet service providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally.
  • Americans’ knowledge of the business side of social media companies is also relatively low. Just 29% of Americans correctly named WhatsApp and Instagram as two companies owned by Facebook. And when presented with a photo of Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, only 15% of adults correctly identified him.

Americans and Digital Knowledge Most Americans don’t know Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, among other digital basics (Washington Post)