People's trust in tech is at an all-time low, study finds

Numbers have plummeted during the pandemic.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET analyzing tech trends while also writing news, reviews and commentaries across mobile, streaming and online culture. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti

Some people are becoming more skeptical of tech. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Trust in the technology sector is rapidly declining around the world, according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. In fact, levels hit an all-time low in 17 of 27 countries surveyed, including China, the US and Australia. 

In the US, tech also saw the biggest decline in trust compared to other sectors like fashion, entertainment and retail. While tech was the most trusted sector in the US in 2020, it fell to ninth place in 2021, Edelman says. 

Separately, among the 11 countries Edelman surveyed in its 2020 Trust Barometer Spring Update, which was more COVID-focused, all but one (Saudi Arabia) saw a drop in trust in tech during the pandemic, specifically from May 2020 to January 2021.

Further, in 2016, tech was the most trusted sector in 20 out of 22 countries. But this year, it was No. 1 in only seven countries: Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, Indonesia and India.

Tech has played a critical role in keeping people connected during COVID-19 lockdowns, but it's also been a source of ample misinformation related to the virus, preventative measures and vaccines. Companies including Facebook and Twitter have come under fire for not doing enough to combat false information on their platforms.