While more Americans now identify tech as the most powerful industry in the country, it still lags behind other industries.

Nearly half of the public name politics as the industry with the most power and influence, but a growing share (5 percent in 2018 to 11 percent in 2021) point to Silicon Valley as the most influential.

Respondents were asked which industry holds the most power and influence in America


A lot has happened in the past three years: headline-making congressional hearings with social media chief executives,data breaches that have impacted millions of Americans, and a growing recognition of how much we use technology in our everyday lives. That’s slowly translating into an awareness of how much power the tech industry holds.

Social media usage amid the pandemic

The country is also spending more pandemic-induced time on social media.

"During the pandemic, I have used social media..."

But it wasn’t just the country’s youngest adults -- Gen Z and millennials -- that increased their social media use over the last year and a half. Roughly one-third of Gen X and nearly half of baby boomers said they’re using social media more now. Only one in 10 say they’re using such platforms less compared to the year before the pandemic.

Share who said they did the following amid the pandemic

For many, that extra social media time was spent on new platforms. Twenty-one percent of the U.S. public opened a social media account amid the pandemic, a share that skyrockets to 41 percent among Gen Z adults. Even with some closing accounts (10 percent among all adults), the public was roughly two times more likely to open a social media account than to close one.

U.S. adults were asked which statement they agreed with more

Social media companies are dealing with a U.S. public that doesn’t inherently trust them: 52 percent said they don’t trust social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Tech product companies such Apple or Google have more consumer trust automatically: 56 percent say they automatically trust those companies and that they’d have to do something to lose trust.

To be sure, the tech industry cannot be neatly divided into subcategories. Many tech product companies also have software or social media platforms, social media platforms have entered the wearables space, and some companies do a little bit of everything. Throughout the survey, we sought to look at these two tech subindustries -- social media platforms and tech product companies -- with the understanding that it’s a complicated industry to approach in a single report.

Respondents were asked to what extend they trust the following types of tech companies

Asked for more specifics, roughly half of the country, including those with social media accounts, said they don’t trust social media companies “much” or “at all.”

Tech product companies enjoy higher levels of consumer trust. Twenty-two percent of tech product users said they trust these companies “a lot.”

Extent to which trust is a factor when purchasing from or using the following companies

There aren’t notable differences by users or generation on just how important trust is when considering purchasing or using from social media platforms or tech product companies. Trust is a huge factor for both, among all consumers.

Up Next: Building and Breaking Trust in Tech

© 2021 Morning Consult, All Rights Reserved.