From the Report:
A majority of U.S. adults can answer fewer than half the questions correctly on a digital knowledge quiz, and many struggle with certain cybersecurity and privacy questions.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging. For example, just 28% of adults can identify an example of two-factor authentication – one of the most important ways experts say people can protect their personal information on sensitive accounts. Additionally, about one-quarter of Americans (24%) know that private browsing only hides browser history from other users of that computer, while roughly half (49%) say they are unsure what private browsing does.
This survey consisted of 10 questions designed to test Americans’ knowledge of a range of digital topics, such as cybersecurity or the business side of social media companies. The median number of correct answers was four. Only 20% of adults answered seven or more questions correctly, and just 2% got all 10 questions correct.
Only three-in-ten adults correctly answered that starting a URL with “https://” means that the information entered on that site is encrypted (30%). A similar share (28%) accurately identified an example of two-factor authentication. (This involves confirming individuals are who they claim to be in at least two of the following ways: inputting information only the user knows, like a password; using an outside source they possess, like a phone number or token key; or through something like a fingerprint.) A somewhat smaller share – 24% of Americans – is aware that “private browsing” or “incognito mode” only hides online activity from other individuals using the same computer. (It does not mean that the user’s activities are masked and not being captured by the websites, the internet provider, or an employer if the browsing is being done on a work computer.)
Americans’ knowledge of the business side of social media companies is also relatively low. Just 29% of Americans correctly named WhatsApp and Instagram as two companies owned by Facebook. And when presented with a photo of Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, only 15% of adults correctly identified him.
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