The AP-CNBC poll was conducted May 3–7, 2012 and reflects the views of 1,004 people surveyed by telephone. The poll has a margin of error factor of plus or minus 3.9 percent. Here are the results:
1. Gauging the High Fliers of Tech
A majority, 51 percent, of Americans have a favorable impression of Facebook, while 23 percent have an unfavorable impression.
- Facebook lags behind perceptions of tech giants like Google (71 percent favorable), Apple (71 percent favorable), and Microsoft (71 percent favorable).
- Twitter is the least favored; the micro-blogging service scored only 27 percent, behind Facebook’s 51 percent.
- There are sharp differences in views of Facebook by age. Just 28 percent of senior citizens have a favorable impression of Facebook, compared with 71 percent of those under age 35.
- Active investors, meaning those who have made changes to their portfolios in the last month, hold more favorable views of Facebook than other investors; 61 percent are favorable versus 53 percent unfavorable.
- Facebook users like the company a lot better than non-users. (72 percent of users have a favorable impression, versus 25 percent among non-users.)
2. Rating the CEO in the Hoodie
Fifty percent of Americans are neutral, don’t know how they feel, or have simply never heard of Facebook’s founder and CEO.
- About a third of the public (36 percent) has a favorable impression of Zuckerberg; 14 percent hold an unfavorable opinion.
- Among active investors, 42 percent have a positive impression of him; 14 percent view him unfavorably.
- Just 18 percent say they have deep confidence in Zuckerberg’s ability to run a large publicly traded company like Facebook; another 40 percent say they are “somewhat confident.”
- People under age 35 are far more aware of Zuckerberg than their older peers; just 4 percent say they’ve never heard of him.
- Americans who have seen “The Social Network” have a more favorable impression of Zuckerberg than those who haven’t seen it. Among those who’ve seen the movie, 51 percent have a favorable impression, versus 31 percent who have not seen it.
3. Measuring the Prospect of Social Profits
About half of Americans (51 percent) say Facebook stock would be a good investment, while 31 percent say it would not.
- Of those who own stocks, bonds or mutual funds, 54 percent say Facebook would be a good investment, while 34 percent say it would not. That’s similar to non-investors: 51 percent of non-investors consider it a good investment.
- Active investors (those who have changed their holdings in the past month) are 4 percent more likely than other investors to say it would not be a good investment.
- Those under age 35 are most apt to say Facebook shares would be a good investment (59 percent), followed by baby boomers (55 percent), then seniors, (39 percent).
- A sizable share, however, just aren’t sure, as 17 percent say they don’t know how Facebook will turn out as a public company.
4. Rating Facebook's Staying Power Against the Next Tech Newcomers
Once again, the public is divided. Forty-three percent say they think the social networking leader will be successful over the long term; 46 percent believe it will fade away as new companies come along.
- Investors are more optimistic than others about the company’s long-term prospects. 48 percent think it will be successful in the long run compared with 42 percent of non-investors.
- There’s a sharp divide on this question among users and non-users of the site. Fifty-one percent of users see it as a long-term success versus just 35 percent among non-users.
- Although they are generally more positive about the company, younger adults are no more apt than their older counterparts to expect Facebook’s long-term success; 51 percent think it will fade.
5. Confidence in Leadership
Americans aren’t sure about Mark Zuckerberg as a leader. Just 18 percent say they have deep confidence in Zuckerberg’s ability to run a large publicly traded company like Facebook.
- About a third of the public (36 percent) has a favorable impression of the Facebook founder, while 14 percent hold an unfavorable opinion. That leaves the remaining 50 percent either unaware of him, or undecided.
- Among active investors, 42 percent say they have a positive impression of him, while 14 percent view him unfavorably.
- People under age 35 are far more aware of Zuckerberg than their older peers; just four percent say they’ve never heard of him. Moreover, about half (45 percent) in this age group have a positive impression of him.
- Those who have seen the movie “The Social Network” have a more favorable impression of Zuckerberg than those who haven’t seen it: 51 percent favorable versus 31 percent among those who have not seen it.
6. The Traits That Determine Success
Asked about several different attributes that could affect his ability to run the company — his age, temperament, and reputation — pluralities in the poll said those characteristics wouldn’t make a difference in his leadership ability.
- Zuckerberg’s age is seen more as an asset (21 percent help) than a liability (11 percent hurt), as is his reputation (19 percent help versus 12 percent hurt). But more than 4 in 10 said each would ultimately make no difference.
- Those who have seen the movie “The Social Network” are more apt to say Zuckerberg’s temperament and reputation would hurt his ability to run the company. On his temperament, 21 percent said it would help, and 28 percent it would hurt; on his reputation, 28 percent said it would help, versus 20 percent who thought it would hurt.
- Though “The Social Network” appears to have impacted perceptions of Zuckerberg, only about a quarter of adults (27 percent) say they have seen the film.
7. The Question of Valuation
Half of Americans (50 percent) say a Facebook valuation of nearly one hundred billion dollars, larger than Ford and Kraft but smaller than Google and Coca-Cola, would be too high.
- A third of respondents (32 percent) said $100 billion would be a fair value, while 3 percent believe such a valuation is below Facebook’s real worth.
- Those who invest in the stock market are more likely than those who do not to say Facebook would be overvalued: 58 percent compared with 45 percent of non-investors.
- Among active investors, or those who have made changes in their holdings in the last month, 62 percent say they think Facebook will be overvalued, 27 percent think it will be fairly priced, and 5 percent believe it will be undervalued.
8. Assessing Facebook's Market Penetration
A majority of Americans say they have a Facebook page (56 percent), up from 48 percent in a Gallup/USA Today poll last fall.
- About 3 in 10 say they use Facebook every day.
- Younger adults are the heaviest users, with a third (32 percent) of those under age 35 saying they visit Facebook several times a day. Most in this age group (55 percent) report using Facebook daily.
- Among senior citizens, 73 percent do not have a Facebook page, and 47 percent of baby boomers say they don’t have one.
9. The Privacy Issue
Very few people who use Facebook say they trust the site with their personal information.
- Just 13 percent say they trust Facebook completely or a lot to keep their personal information private.
- A large majority (59 percent) say they have little or no faith in the company to protect their privacy.
10. Why People Stay Away From the Social Network
Among those who do not have a Facebook page, 35 percent said they simply lack interest in it, preferring to spend their time on other activities.
- Twenty-two percent avoid it because they think it’s a bad thing, inappropriate, or not for people their age.
- Another 21 percent said they are not on Facebook because of computer issues; the same percentage of people opt out due to privacy concerns.
- Demographic breakdowns of those who do not use Facebook are very similar to the results in Question #8.
11. The Outlook for E-Commerce
Most Americans, 54 percent, say they would not feel safe purchasing goods and services like clothing or travel on Facebook.
- Just eight percent of adults and 12 percent of all Facebook users say they would feel safe making purchases of goods and services like clothing or travel on the site.
- Even among the site’s most frequent users — those who use it multiple times a day —half say they would not feel safe making purchases through the site.
- Among those who do not currently use the site, nearly half, 44 percent, say they would not feel safe making such a purchase.
12. The Effectiveness of Advertising
About eight in 10 Facebook users say they hardly ever or never click on advertising or sponsored content when using the site.
- Fifty-seven percent of users say they never click on ads or sponsored content, while 26 percent “hardly ever” click on them.
- About one in six say they often or sometimes click on those ads.
13. The Movie and the Perception
Despite the movie’s $96.9 million in domestic box office profits, a vast majority of Americans (70 percent) say they haven’t seen it.
- Just over a quarter of adults, 27 percent, say they have seen “The Social Network,” the movie based on the founding of Facebook.
- Only a quarter (24 percent) of those who have seen the movie say they do not have a Facebook page.