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Half of Young People See Major Tech Sites as Too Powerful, Finds Viacom

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Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google are too big and powerful, agree half of today’s young people. During a VidCon 2019 panel called “Youth Culture: Power in Progress,” two Viacom executives presented the results of global survey showing how young people view power in the world. According to “Power in Progress,” presented by Christian Kurz, senior vice president of global consumer insights for Viacom, and Maya Peterson, senior director of culture and insights for Viacom Velocity, “This generation’s relationship to structural power is still in beta. Many young people can’t yet vote, or even drive, yet their values are starting to drive changes within powerful systems and institutions.”

The study shows a system in flux, but where it’s headed is hard to predict. “Brands are in a new position of power and acceptance,” the study says, noting that young people are twice as likely to trust brands than traditional institutions, and four times more likely to trust brands than politicians. But that doesn’t mean feelings about brands are overwhelmingly positive. Transparency is important to young people, but thanks to platform failures and resulting brand apologies, young people are deeply skeptical about brand integrity. Surprisingly, two-thirds don’t see the system as a barrier to power, while one-third do.

Young people see new media as a way to gain power for themselves, and are collaborating to harness attention and use media in new ways. That includes using media to boost underrepresented voices. With no gatekeepers on new media, young people are free to police authenticity and tell personal stories from new points of view, but also “cancel” people and ideas that don’t agree with their beliefs. The report calls this the “effects of the swarm.”

“Youth Culture: Power in Progress” was created from qualitative discussions and quantitative surveys in several countries, focusing on consumers age 13 to 25.

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