Facebook Inc. scored in the bottom 5 percent of a customer-satisfaction survey released Tuesday, below Internet rivals Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., as the social-networking site's frequent changes rankled users.
Facebook received 64 on a 100-point scale, while Google scored 80 and Yahoo got 76, according to a report based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which was developed by the University of Michigan's business school. Concerns about privacy, design changes and aggressive advertising hurt Facebook's status, the report found.
The ACSI polls - based on interviews with 70,000 customers annually - historically have measured customer satisfaction with more than 225 brick-and-mortar companies, as well as federal government departments. This is the first time social media sites were measured.
"Social media has become too big to ignore, so we added it to our list of e-business measures," said ACSI founder Claes Fornell. "We are quite surprised to find that satisfaction with the category defies its popularity."
Facebook has grappled with user complaints this year, while still attracting advertisers and millions of new members. In May, the company simplified privacy settings to make it easier for people to protect their personal data. It is expected this week to announce it has 500 million members.
"They've had this great growth - you can't say anything negative about that," said Larry Freed, chief executive officer of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ForeSee Results Inc., a sponsor of the survey. "Low satisfaction means you're starting to put that growth at risk."
Facebook ranked in the same range as airlines and cable companies, two groups that typically score low on satisfaction surveys, according to the report.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and chief executive, who normally stays out of the spotlight, is stepping into it to deflect and respond to criticism. He penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post a few months ago about some of the site's changes and is scheduled to be interviewed Wednesday night by Diane Sawyer on ABC.