Consumers don’t trust social media companies with AI. Hashtag Trending for Friday, May 24th, 2024

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A new Axios poll says that consumers don’t trust social media giants branching into AI.  Two companies headed by Elon Musk saw their reputation scores plummet.  X or Twitter allows you (and Elon) to hide what you like or don’t like. And Sam Altman can’t explain why he didn’t know about a policy that is embedded in the company’s incorporation documents that he approved…

All this and more on this “trust me” edition of Hashtag Trending. I’m your host, Jim Love, let’s get into it.

A new Axios Harris Poll reveals American consumers don’t trust social media giants branching into AI.

The poll assessed corporate reputation scores for the 100 most visible U.S. brands. Nvidia, Microsoft and OpenAI – companies at the forefront of generative AI – ranked among the top firms overall and for measures like vision, growth potential and trustworthiness.

In contrast, social media companies like Meta, ByteDance and the platform formerly known as Twitter scored poorly on reputation, plummeting into the “very poor” range. Their rankings have steadily declined amid privacy breaches, misinformation challenges and other public controversies.

While 58% of Americans see importance in integrating AI capacities, only 30% say they are more likely to purchase a product or service simply because it uses AI. Public trust in the technology itself is waning.

The findings suggest social media’s reputational woes could hinder these companies’ efforts to rebrand as AI innovators and disruptors. High-profile missteps with products like AI image generators have already sparked backlash against some tech giants.

Deepening AI anxieties around potential job displacement and threats to human creativity persist as well. 74% agree “human creativity” makes products amazing in ways AI cannot replicate.

As generative AI goes mainstream, the poll indicates legacy tech brands face an uphill battle to gain public confidence in their AI products and governance compared to firms singularly associated with the transformative technology.

Sources include:

And it turns out that X or Twitter isn’t the only Elon Musk company that has bottomed out in terms of reputation.

Tesla, the electric car company with a once-stellar brand image has taken a big plunge in terms of reputation again, according to this latest Axios Harris Poll ranking on corporate reputations.

The automaker has plummeted from 8th place in 2021 all the way down to 63rd this year.  Only one other automaker has a worse reputation score and that’s Volkswagen, which has still not recovered from its alleged falsification of emissions data.

The precipitous drop suggests CEO Elon Musk’s antics and other issues are severely tarnishing the public perception of Tesla . In areas like character, trust and ethics, Tesla now ranks in the 70s or lower.

Tesla’s rankings on vision, growth potential and products have tumbled from their previous top 10 standings just three years ago.

The company has fallen behind conventional rivals like Honda, Toyota and GM when it comes to overall brand reputation.

Analysts attribute the decline to Musk’s messy Twitter takeover, controversial online persona, and Tesla’s lack of professional communications support after he dismantled the PR department.

Further challenges loom with rising competition, price cuts, layoffs, regulatory scrutiny over Autopilot safety issues, and quality problems. The UAW is also pushing to unionize Tesla’s workforce.

However, Tesla buyers remain intensely loyal for now. Around 70% of Tesla owners purchase from the brand again according to one study, significantly higher than other automakers’ loyalty rates.  Although there are reports of some Tesla’s having a bumper sticker that says, “I bought this before Elon went crazy.”

Sources include: Axios

X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, has confirmed it will soon stop displaying public “likes” on users’ profile pages in a move to reduce certain incentives.

The change was revealed this week after a contributor discovered code in X’s iOS app that removes the “Likes” tab when toggled off. X engineers then corroborated the company’s plans.

According to X’s director of engineering Haofei Wang, publicly viewable likes “are incentivizing the wrong behavior.” He explained many users feel discouraged from openly liking potentially “edgy” content out of fear – whether from online harassment or protecting their public image.

By making likes private, Wang said users will be able to engage with posts freely without worrying who might see their likes. He framed it as improving the personalized “For You” algorithm which tailors content based on likes.

While users will still see overall like counts on posts, the specific accounts that liked a piece of content will now be hidden to everyone except the original poster.

Premium X subscribers have previously had the option to conceal their liked posts, but the platform is now extending that privacy feature to all users imminently.

The move appears motivated by reducing self-censorship on X and fostering more candid engagement. However, some raised concerns that removing public accountability could enable spread of misinformation and objectionable content

X’s owner Elon Musk has previously drawn criticism for liking controversial posts himself. The change allows him and all users to express virtual endorsement more discreetly moving forward.

Sources include: MacRumours

Sam Altman said that he was not aware of OpenAI’s

controversial practices which threatened to claw back vested equity from ex-employees unless they signed stringent non-disparagement agreements.

But was Altman telling the truth?  Company records obtained by Vox show documents signed by OpenAI’s chief strategy officer Jason Kwon that explicitly state that former employees must sign a “release of claims” within 60 days “in order to retain” their vested equity units.

OpenAI’s incorporation documents governing equity stakes were signed by Altman himself in April 2023. These documents contain provisions allowing the company broad authority to block ex-employees from selling vested equity or revoking it entirely.

When asked about these apparent inconsistencies, OpenAI didn’t explain how these clauses were included without Altman’s knowledge. An OpenAI spokesperson only stated they are “working to fix this as quickly as possible.”

The revelations call into question the leadership’s transparency around punitive policies that prevented former staff from freely criticizing the prominent AI company. OpenAI markets itself as deserving public trust to develop transformative artificial general intelligence responsibly.

However, if its own employees felt muzzled under threat of severe financial retaliation, it raises accountability concerns over OpenAI’s stated principles and its ambitions to ensure AGI robustly benefits humanity.

Makes you think about the earlier firing of Altman where the reason given for his dismissal was that he was not “consistently candid in his communications”.

My mission in life is not to be a Sam Altman critic, but when it comes to someone having potential control over a development that credible scientists say could possibly lead to human extinction – you really do want to think you can trust what they say.  Just sayin’

That’s our show for today.

We love your comments. Reach me at editorial@technewsday.ca. Show notes are at technewsday.ca or .com – take your pick.

I’m your host, Jim Love, we have a great guest this weekend and just as a reminder, we observe Canadian and US long weekends so we’ll be off on Monday and back with the daily tech news on Tuesday.

 

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