The Sad State of Social Media Privacy
Privacy in the social media era: it can seem like an oxymoron. For years, consumers, media, and government regulators have grappled with the problem of online privacy in an increasingly social world. But has anything gotten any better? It appears not.
- Trust no one (well, almost no one). Nearly 2/3 of consumers don't trust online companies like Facebook, even though we all interact with them and share our personal information with them.
- Extent to which consumers trust online companies with their personal information.
Due to rounding, figures exceed 100%.
Trust completely - 2%.
Somewhat trust - 33%.
Do not trust - 62%.
Don't know - 4%.
- Getting burned. One reason consumers don’t trust online companies could be that they’ve been burned before. As many as 1 in 2 consumers reported they have suffered an online breach of privacy in recent years.
Nearly half of social media users have suffered a privacy-violating experience in the last 2 years. Of those, 2 in 3 experienced between 4 and 10 privacy violations during that time.
- Ignorance is bliss. Though millions of Americans use Facebook regularly, many don't know what information they're offering up by doing so - or what Facebook does with that information.
68% of Facebook users don't understand Facebook's privacy settings.
Do you think Facebook sells your personal or behavioral data to advertisers? (unsure - 61%, yes - 29%, no - 10%)
Getting better or worse?
- We have less control today than before. A 2011 report by MSNBC and The Ponemon Institute examined how Internet users feel about their privacy today compared to five years ago. By a wide margin, people feel they have less control over their personal info today than they did five years earlier.
Do you have more or less control over personal information today than five years ago? (less control - 69%, same control - 18%, more control - 13%).
- But privacy isn't any more important. Though most say they have less control over their privacy, only 28 percent of people consider privacy more important now. However, the importance of privacy is a polarizing issue between those who do and don't use social media. Avid social media users are less concerned with their privacy.
Is privacy more or less important to you than it was five years ago?
Overall (more important - 28%, equally important - 36%, less important - 36%).
Active social media user (more important - 28%, equally important - 14%, less important - 58%).
Social media non-user (more important - 27%, equally important - 53%, less important - 20%).
- Few can protect themselves today. Few social media users believe they can protect their information online. A slim 4 percent of respondents are very confident they can do so.
Do users agree with the statement "I'm confident I can protect my personal Information when I’m online "?
Strongly agree - 4%.
Agree - 14%.
Unsure - 31%.
Disagree - 33%.
What consumers want
- Collecting and using personal data.
Social media users are hungry for more control over their personal information and how it’s used online. Most of all, they want to know what's being collected.
What Millennial (Ages 19-291 Want When It Comes to Collection and Use of Personal Data.
Know what data is being collected - 84%.
Opt-in to location tracking - 79%.
Opt-in to online tracking - 77%.
Be able to create a portable privacy profile - 76%.
Be rewarded for sharing personal data - 47%.
- The desire to share even more. Studies have shown that consumers have been concerned about their online privacy for years. Social networks should take note: giving users transparent, easy-to-use privacy controls could enable more activity.
61% of social network users would share more if they could control who sees what they share.
SOURCES: MSNBC, THE PONEMON INSTITUTE, HARRIS INTERACTIVE, AMERICAN CONSUMER INSTITUTE CENTER FOR CITIZEN RESEARCH, ANONYMIZER