Not all Web sites are trustworthy, but the Online Trust Alliance says there are many sites doing a good job, particularly Twitter. In the 2014 Online Trust Audit, Twitter topped all the 200 Web sites that made OTA's relatively exclusive "Honor Roll." To evaluate the companies, OTA considered factors like consumer protection, data protection and server security. In total, more than 15 factors were rolled into each site's final score.
Social Networks Remain Ahead
Of all the industries that OTA looked at for its annual report, social networks were the most likely to make the honor roll. Those who use social networks expect them to protect their information, which may be a driving force behind sites like Facebook and Twitter implementing additional security features.
Half the top 50 social networks made OTA's honor roll because of things like e-mail authentication and Do Not Track adoption.
"The Social 50 outpaced all other sectors," OTA's report said. "Their high scores are in part a reflection of system architectures that are much more homogeneous and integrated."
It was a repeat performance for Twitter, giving other sites something to strive toward. "Twitter, for the second year in a row, received the highest score across all sectors, followed by American Greetings who outscored all online retailers and e-commerce sites," OTA said.
The percentage of networks that made the honor roll did drop from 52 percent in 2013 and 54 percent in 2012. OTA says that the change in that statistic could be the result of more stringent evaluation factors. Social sites like Blogger and YouTube also made the list and ranked just as highly as most social networks.
While social networks demonstrated a continued commitment to user privacy and consumer protection, other industries did not do as well. In the financial sector, the top 100 FDIC members were given higher scores than in 2013, yet only 33 percent of the sites made the honor roll. Since the FDIC member sites are responsible for important financial information, the lack of high scores is a cause for concern.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from social networks was news. This is the first year that OTA has looked at news Web sites for its report, and the findings were somewhat surprising. Just 4 percent of news sites made the honor roll, and while a news site is not responsible for financial or in-depth personal data, the results are still not good. OTA says that just 34 percent of news sites use encryption on their log-in pages, leaving that information vulnerable to hackers.