More information, more options, and more control over their personal choices as consumers.
Most Americans believe that the rise of the Internet and the spread of social media has delivered all of those tangible benefits, according to a new Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll exploring public attitudes toward the cascading technological advances that have revolutionized communication between individuals, business, and government.
Millions of Americans, the poll found, use online tools not only to comparison shop but also to learn from the collective experience of other consumers and to contribute to that mass judgment by posting accounts of their experiences, good or bad, with businesses and government. A solid majority of Americans, especially those who actively use social media, believe that this ongoing communications revolution is enhancing their ability to make informed choices as consumers. A narrower plurality of respondents also feel that the same dynamics are equipping them to make better choices as voters.
But for ordinary Americans, has this explosion of Internet use increased their influence over the public and private institutions that shape their lives? On that front, despite high-profile examples of online uprisings that forced changes on such companies as Bank of America and Netflix, Americans are much more dubious.