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You are here: Home / World Wide Web / Americans Have Limited Web IQ
Pew: Americans Don't Have a Clue About the Web
Pew: Americans Don't Have a Clue About the Web
By Dan Heilman / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
If you’re a typical Internet user in the United States, you can easily identify Bill Gates from a photo, but your understanding of net neutrality might be a little sketchy. And you might know even less about a company's privacy policy, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center.

According to Pew, only 61 percent of people responding correctly answered a multiple-choice question and identified net neutrality as equal treatment of digital content by Internet service providers. Also, in response to a true-or-false question, just 44 percent of respondents correctly answered that the presence of a privacy policy does not necessarily mean that the company keeps the information that it collects from users confidential.

Despite the fact that 39 percent of Americans don’t know what net neutrality is, the figure arguably reflects that the topic is becoming a bigger part of the lexicon among Internet users.

Other topics proved less challenging. More than 80 percent of survey respondents were able to correctly identify Microsoft founder Bill Gates from a photo. A similar percentage were able to correctly pinpoint Twitter as the Internet service where hashtags are widely used. More than 70 percent correctly knew that e-mail can be used to send PDFs, and correctly answered that a megabyte contains more information than a kilobyte.

What’s Moore’s Law?

Respondents didn’t do as well when it came to more esoteric topics. Just 34 percent were able to correctly link Moore’s Law with the number of transistors on a computer chip, and only 23 percent correctly pointed out that the Internet and the World Wide Web are not the same thing.

Pew’s survey, of 1,066 adult Internet users in the U.S., was conducted in September. The survey was conducted by the GfK Group using KnowledgePanel, the nationally representative online research panel Pew has used for previous surveys. To qualify for the main survey, a panel member must have been at least 18 years of age and use the Internet or e-mail at least occasionally either via a computer or a mobile device.

That’s a Captcha

Younger Internet users are more knowledgeable than older users on some survey topics, though not all. Not surprisingly, younger folks have the edge in questions dealing with social media and common Internet usage conventions. Compared with older Americans, younger Internet users are more likely to know that Facebook originated at Harvard University. They're also more likely to correctly identify pictures representing words like "captcha" and phrases like "advanced search."

There was also an education gap in the survey results. Pew found that college graduates have a much greater awareness of facts such as Twitter’s character limit, or the meaning of terms such as URL, than users who did not attend college. On the other hand, only 12 percent of the highly educated group knew that Mosaic was the first widely available graphical Web browser.

Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.

Tell Us What You Think


Posted: 2014-11-26 @ 6:43am PT
Totally agree with RestOfTheWorld. It makes me wonder where EE (phD) got his/her degree? Online?

Posted: 2014-11-25 @ 10:18pm PT
The questions are not silly at all, and if you can't see the relationship between Moore's Law and the Internet, Pew has just exposed your ignorance.

EE (phD):
Posted: 2014-11-25 @ 2:51pm PT
The Pew's quiz is kind of silly and questions like who is that woman (I had no clue). Moore's Law is not related to the Internet, really.

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