Americans say Facebook is worse for society than Walmart or McDonald’s

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  • A survey of 2,000 Americans showed people believe Facebook has more negative effects on society than Walmart or McDonald’s.
  • Facebook has spent the last several months working to eliminate fake news from users’ feeds.
  • Former Facebook executives have also publicly condemned the platform as destructive to society.

Walmart and McDonald’s may have negative effects on society, according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, but Facebook beats them both.

Conducted by the research company Honest Data, the survey asked people to single out from a list of companies which ones they felt had the worst impacts on society. The companies included Marlboro, Walmart, Facebook, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola.

Facebook fit that criteria for 27% of respondents, coming in second behind Marlboro, which 43% of people said had negative effects. McDonald’s and Walmart came in at 21% and 18%, respectively, while 36% of people said “None of the above.”

Tavis McGinn, founder of Honest Data, wrote on LinkedIn that the findings weren’t entirely surprising, given how much negative press Facebook has received in recent months.

“In the social sphere, people began to question the long-term impact of Facebook on the psychological well-being of users,” McGinn wrote, noting that violent crimes and suicide have been broadcast on Facebook Live and that former Facebook executives have publicly condemned the platform as addictive and socially destructive.

The psychology research backs some of these claims up. Heavy users of social media have been shown to display greater rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies. The studies have managed to show the two factors aren’t just correlated; social media appears to lead to negatives feelings.

“Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, initially dismissed some of these concerns as a ‘crazy idea’ and instead tried promote the benefits of his social network,” McGinn wrote. In defense, Zuckerberg also recently claimed people were spending 50 million fewer hours on Facebook due to various changes to the site.

“But eventually, public opinion and dissatisfaction grew too loud to ignore,” McGinn wrote.

A separate survey asking people which tech companies had negative effects on society found Facebook was the most common answer, followed closely by Twitter. Google, Netflix, and LinkedIn fell much further behind.

However, “None of the above” was still the most popular response overall, selected by 53% of people, perhaps suggesting the public outrage at tech companies has yet to hit its peak.