France sees the Internet as a key to globalization, study finds

Jun 7, 2013
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internetLes Echos in conjunction with IFOP released a study this week delving into French attitudes and perceptions of the internet, its place in their lives as well as their thoughts on the internet’s tech leaders.  It’s clear from their findings that although that concerns around privacy abound, particularly in regards to the US digital leaders, the internet is also considered to a positive advancement on the economic front and on improving users’ daily lives.

Google = the internet for many

One of the first areas tackled was examining which company was most emblematic of the web. When respondents ask to spontaneously respond to this question, not surprisingly Google came out on top. What was surprising however was how far ahead Google was vis-a-vis their digital peers. 49% of respondents spontaneously answered Google, where as only 6% named Microsoft, 5% Apple, 4% Amazon and Facebook, and less than 1% Twitter. It’s interesting that in a country where the iPhone still has an important (albeit reduced) share of the market, Facebook has 24 million accounts, and Twitter, with 5.5 million DAUs and growing, is omnipresent in the French press, that Google still is the dominant symbol of the internet for so many. Another fascinating, although not really surprising, conclusion was that France’s tech stars such as Dailymotion, Deezer or even the ecommerce leaders Vente Privee or Priceminister weren’t mentioned much at all.  This was also the case when they were ask simply to list the internet companies that they were aware of. The nature of Google, and it’s all important place in navigating and organizing the web is likely the biggest reason that it’s so top-of-mind for many.

Privacy concerns still brewing

Privacy concerns, particularly in regards to social networks, are still a hot topic for many in France. When asked about Twitter specifically, close to 50% of respondents state that they find Twitter’s rise concerning. Of course, Facebook also appears strongly when discussing the subject. IFOP seems to offer some hope that this may not be a problem in the long-term and imply that it may reduce somewhat overtime. Consistent with other studies they’ve done, they found that privacy concerns are strongest with older participants and that, not surprisingly, the more one uses social media, the fewer privacy concerns they have. Although it’s possible that there could be a backlash to social media one day by the younger generations, it’s more likely that having grown up with social media, they’ll find a way to mitigate and/or deal with these concerns.

The internet is a positive advancement for all

The French strongly associate the internet with globalization the survey finds, as 93% make this link. As there are so many concerns in France around globalization’s negative effects, this hasn’t affected people’s perceptions of the internet overall which are quite positive. For example, 78% state that it has had a positive effect on the economy and 75% on job creation.  Nearly all respondents stated that “from a personal perspective, the web facilitates access to information (which is a big positive) and helps them manage their daily lives”.