Global technology paranoia: which countries have the biggest fear of tech?

Is Facebook tracking me? Is AI dangerous? Is my phone listening to me? Is someone looking through my webcam? We analysed online searches in different countries to uncover their biggest tech concerns and fears.

Is Facebook tracking me? Is AI dangerous? Is my phone listening to me? Is someone looking through my webcam? We analysed online searches in different countries to uncover the biggest concerns and fears around tech. 

With technology so wholly integrated into our daily lives, it’s not uncommon to feel a bit paranoid sometimes. After all, cookies track what websites you visit, search engines keep a log of online activity, your mobile knows your location, and Facebook knows all your friends and what food you like.

To find out what keeps us up at night when it comes to tech, we analysed online search trends across 10 countries.

 

Facebook privacy is one of the biggest tech concerns globally

Fears of our data being bought and sold, employers snooping on our personal lives, being ‘Facebook stalked’ and cyberbullying are all negative aspects of social media that fuel our concerns around privacy, pushing this search term to the top.

The US is the most concerned country when it comes to Facebook privacy. Around 12,100 Americans search ‘how to make Facebook private’ every month.

The world also worries about computer viruses and being hacked, both relating to the fear of someone accessing our data and files. Evidently, our privacy and that of our personal information is a top concern around modern technology.

 

The US, the UK and India are the most technophobic countries

Out of the 10 countries analysed, one came up on top in terms of technology paranoia. The US has the greatest phobia of technology, with 34,420 searches per month for the top 30 technology paranoias analysed. This is more than twice the quantity of any other country on the list.

Second comes the UK, with 13,660 searches for the top 30 fears of technology, then India at 9,360.

Meanwhile, the least technophobic country is Japan, with just 410 monthly searches for the top 30 fears.

The biggest tech phobias of North America and the UK are privacy, safety and misinformation

The US, Canada and the UK share many of the same tech phobias:

  • ‘how to make Facebook private’ – 14,880 people asking each month
  • ‘can someone hack my phone’ – 8,320 people asking each month

 

Fears of social media centre around privacy and safety

 Facebook

Controversies over Facebook’s use of data have struck a nerve.  Facebook remains a considerable source of concern and controversy globally, with thousands of people worrying over profile and search history privacy, targeted ads, being monitored and hackers.

The countries most concerned about Facebook:

  • US – 14,450 searches per month
  • India – 2,860 searches per month
  • Mexico – 2,520 searches per month

Biggest concerns: 

  • ‘how to make Facebook private’ – 22,530 people asking each month
  • ‘how to stop Facebook listening’ – 770 people asking each month

TikTok

Although new to the social media cohort, TokTok accounts for two of our top thirty fears worldwide. What is it about TikTok that we’re so worried about? TikTok concerns centre around safety, notably, the safety of kids. As the upcoming popular platform among Gen Z, parents are rightly checking up on the safety of the platform and its appropriateness for children.

The countries most concerned about TikTok are:

  • US – 710 searches per month
  • India – 400 searches per month
  • UK – 280 searches per month

Biggest concerns: 

  • ‘how safe is TikTok’ – 500 people asking each month
  • ‘is TikTok ok for kids’ – 1,030 people asking each month

 

AI advancements bring with them global concerns around ethics and safety

Once a mere sci-fi trope, the idea of robots taking over the world is increasingly becoming a legitimate concern of thousands of people worldwide. Modern AI assists us in many areas of life, from helping around the house to solving complex mathematical problems. But AI’s growing presence has led to concerns among many over the ethics and safety of AI: as it continues to advance, will we be able to maintain control over it?

Countries most concerned about AI:

  • US — 640 searches per month
  • India — 510 searches per month
  • UK — 290 searches per month 

Biggest concerns: 

  • ‘will AI take over the world’ – 880 people asking each month
  • ‘will AI replace humans’ – 720 people asking each month

 

Reliance on devices has led to concerns around viruses, hacking and more

Our fears around devices range from concerns around data and privacy to the physical safety of these objects if they overheat. Thousands of people globally are also concerned about the growing interference of devices in our lives. Rather than making our lives easier, they may actually distract us from the present and overwhelm us with ongoing notifications. 

 The countries most concerned about devices are:

  • US — 15,930 searches per month
  • UK — 9,370 searches per month
  • India — 5,240 searches per month

Biggest concerns: 

  • ‘can someone hack my phone’ – 10,660 people asking each month

 

Are we right to be fearful of technology?

MiQ CMO Rebecca Rosborough says, “As consumers, we all have the right to data privacy and control over how our personal data is used. Changes like the GDPR and the end of the use of personal identifiers like cookies are a huge opportunity for brands and ad tech companies to rebuild some of the trust that has been lost in the digital advertising ecosystem.”

Technology is transformative, revolutionising the way we live. From smart home tech that monitors our household bills to social media connecting us globally, our lives have been made easier both at home and in the office. But such fast innovations bring with them the unease of not knowing where they will go. Ultimately, it’s up to us as humans to harness the power of tech beneficially rather than harmfully.

Method
Search trend data for different countries was sourced using SEMRush.