Apr 23, 2020 - Technology

Coronavirus pandemic blunts Americans' Big Tech backlash

Facebook's new care emojis during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Americans are looking more favorably on the tech industry and are especially cheered by efforts to help track coronavirus cases, according to recent polling.

Why it matters: The industry's image was taking a beating over concerns around misinformation, privacy and other issues before the coronavirus pandemic, but sentiment has shifted as the virus has forced more Americans to rely on online services.

By the numbers: 38% of Americans say their view of the tech industry has become more positive since the start of the outbreak, according to a Harris Poll that surveyed 2,029 adults between April 18 and 20.

  • Just 9% said their view of the industry has become more negative, while 53% said it hasn't changed.
  • The survey also found that 81% approve of large tech companies helping to trace contacts that users may have had with people with the virus.
  • A separate survey fielded by the National Research Group found that 88% of respondents reported having a "better appreciation" for tech's positive impact on society and culture than they did before the outbreak.

The backdrop: Apple and Google earlier this month announced a Bluetooth-powered project to notify people via smartphone if they've come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Yes, but: Another recent poll found mixed feelings when it came to Americans’ willingness to actually download a contact-tracing app and, in particular, let data from it be shared with health officials.

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
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