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Users unhappy with social media: report

Jacob AxelradThe Christian Science Monitor

It turns out people are not so content with the services providing their online social interactions – regardless of how much time they may spend on their social media accounts. 

That's according to a new report on e-business released Tuesday from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), an annual survey of 70,000 US consumers that measures their satisfaction with the products and services they use from both foreign and domestic firms with large presences in US markets. The e-business report looks at social media, portals, search engines, online news outlets, and opinion websites. 

Social media websites are among the companies with the lowest scores in the index. The report attributes these low scores to privacy concerns among users and the increasing proliferation of ads on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Both sites have recently rolled out new features that let users buy items directly from their Facebook news feeds and through paid-for tweets. 

ACSI gave Internet social media an overall score of 71 out of 100, up 4.4 percent from last year. But it is still the fourth lowest-scoring category in ACSI, "just above airlines (69), subscription television (65), and Internet service providers (63)," according to the report. 

While Facebook climbed five points to a score of 67, it is the lowest-scoring social-media website, just behind LinkedIn and Twitter. And data was collected for this survey before news broke that Facebook had deliberately manipulated users' news feeds for purposes of an academic study. Because this news angered many Facebook users, it is possible its ACSI score could have been even lower had data been collected after the fact. 

LinkedIn saw its highest score to date at 67, as did Twitter at 69. This follows a Twitter site redesign and platform changes that make it easier for users to "integrate photos and videos," in addition to incorporating real-time interactive pop-up Web notifications. 

Wikipedia was the only site to see a decline in user satisfaction. It fell four points to a rating of 74. But it's still in second place after Pinterest, which has claimed the top spot for social media scores. 

"Consumers have a new darling in social bookmarking site Pinterest, which climbs 6% to an ACSI score of 76," the report states. "The site has made steady gains with pinners over the past three years by adding features and smarter search functions."

As people continue to transition to smart phones and tablets to access Internet services, social media sites are lagging behind other e-business websites for performance on different devices, according to the report. 

"Freshness of content and ease of navigation varies widely among individual websites, but on average, social media sites do not compare well to other online businesses in any measure of the user experience," the report states, noting, however, that overall satisfaction with e-businesses climbed by 2.9 percent to a score of 73.4. 

Customer satisfaction with portals and search engines performed better, garnering an average score of 80, thanks in large part to Google's dominance. The search giant performed well ahead of all competitors in the ACSI rating. 

Customer satisfaction with news and opinion sites moved up only one point to 74, which the report attributes mainly to increased readership of non-mainstream media outlets.