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Trust in Tech (Decline) —companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the Internet of Things — fell all around the world last year, the Edelman Trust Barometer found in a massive survey of 31,000 people in 27 countries.

Driving the news-The personal data of 533 million Facebook Inc. users around the world was posted to a public low-level hacking forum over the weekend, including phone numbers, internal Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, biographical information and some email addresses. A vulnerability in Facebook's system in 2019, which a company spokesperson said has since been patched, exposed the data, which includes over 32 million records on U.S.-based users. (Tech This Out News)

Why it matters: High public esteem has helped protect the tech industry from critics and regulators, but that shield is weakening.

Details: Edelman found that favorable views of the tech sector globally dropped six points overall, to 70 (on a scale of 100).

That's still ahead of other sectors of the business world, but represents a significant decline from prior years and comes as trust in corporations overall has risen. In the U.S., trust in the tech sector dropped more precipitously, falling nine points, to an all-time low of 57.

That puts tech basically in the middle of the pack of industries — behind healthcare, retail, manufacturing but ahead of the energy, automotive and financial services sectors. Social media companies, which weren't included as a category in past years, achieved a trust score of 46, putting them below all other categories of businesses in the rankings. Edelman said the main reason for the trust fall is the increasingly "complicated" relationship between the public and technology — including the spread of misinformation, rising privacy alarm and bias in artificial intelligence.

In the U.S., tech fell from the "most trusted" sector in the 2020 study, to ninth in the latest survey (taken in October and November) — behind food and beverage, health, transportation, education, consumer packaged goods, professional services, manufacturing and retail. The study found that 52% of people surveyed — including 50% in the U.S. — fear that automation or other innovations will take their jobs.