Key Internet and Tech Concepts Still Mysteries for Many


Many Americans are puzzled by concepts that support the Internet and other technological innovations.

Know what net neutrality means and understand the differences between the Internet and World Wide Web? Then you have a better grip of certain technology concepts than many Americans, according to a new poll.

Pew Research Center’s new survey of U.S. Internet users’ knowledge of digital technology and its concepts, history, leaders and applications reveals varying levels of awareness.

While most Americans are able to correctly identify certain tech leaders, they are less likely to be familiar with policy-related concepts or other modern technological innovations, according to the Web IQ Quiz.  

Just over a fifth of Internet users are aware “the Internet” and “the World Wide Web” are not the same thing. Fewer than half of respondents understand a company’s privacy statement does not necessarily means it keeps confidential the data it collects on users.

Another hot policy topic, net neutrality, was a head-scratcher for many. Sixty-one percent of respondents knew it means equal treatment of digital content by Internet service providers, but nearly one-third guessed wrong and another 9 percent did not answer the question.  

Only 34 percent of respondents knew Moore’s Law refers to the number of transistors on a computer chip.

Respondents were more comfortable with social media terms and common Internet use conventions. A majority of respondents (82 percent) know hashtags are used on Twitter as opposed to on Wikipedia, blogs or YouTube. And close to 80 percent also knew PDFs can be sent by any email program.

When tested on their recognition of some technology leaders, 82 percent of respondents correctly identified Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Significantly fewer (21 percent) linked Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg name to her photo --  35 percent thought she was Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

The survey polled 1,066 adult Internet users and was conducted Sept. 12-18, 2014.

Want to see how your tech savvy measures up to other Americans? Take the quiz here.

Yours truly missed two questions: the one on the first graphical Web browser and when the first iPhone came out.

(Image via Imillian/