The National Security Agency has come under fire in recent months for its previously undisclosed surveillance programs. Leaked documents by Edward Snowden sparked widespread outcry about the secret collection of phone records, emails, Internet traffic and other data.
But on privacy issues, Americans still trust the agency more than websites millions of us use by choice every day, a recent poll found.
By large numbers, more people trust the NSA to protect their privacy and personal information than they trust Facebook and Google. People also trust the Internal Revenue Service -- which is being investigated for its scrutiny of groups applying for tax-exempt status and is often rated as one of the most-disliked government agencies -- more than the social-network and search giants.
A Reason-Rupe poll conducted this month found that 61 percent of respondents said they trusted Facebook "not at all" to protect their privacy and personal information.
Just 40 percent said the same of the NSA, while 45 percent said they didn't trust the IRS at all and 48 percent had no trust in Google.
The NSA also fared best among respondents with positive views: 37 percent of those polled said they had "a lot" or "some" trust in the agency on privacy. In contrast, 11 percent had a lot or some trust in Facebook, 22 percent in Google and 33 percent for the IRS.
Facebook and Google have also been ensnared in the government-surveillance debate, after leaked documents revealed that the government was collecting information about users of the sites. The tech companies say they only hand over user information in response to court orders.
The poll was released the same week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, saying the government "blew it" in communicating about its surveillance.
"We take our role really seriously," he said. "I think it's my job and our job to protect everyone who uses Facebook and all the information that they share with us. It's our government's job to protect all of us, and also to protect our freedoms and protect the economy and companies. I think they did a bad job at balancing those things."