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After all the articles about online data safety and social media privacy, advocates have won a victory. The latest survey shows that Americans have finally taken it all in. They no longer trust social media websites to guard their privacy online.
Social Media Privacy Survey
A recent social media privacy survey was conducted among American adults. The survey aimed to determine what level of social media privacy they think they are getting online. The survey was backed by Lincoln Park Strategies, Rad Campaign, and Craig Newmark of Craigslist. A thousand respondents participated, and three quarters said that they are concerned about social media privacy. They worry that too much personal information ends up online. More than half of them do not believe that they are getting social media privacy. Only seven percent of them said that they trust websites to protect their information.
So most adult Americans don’t put their faith in social media privacy. But this does not mean that they are ready to let go of their accounts on sites like Twitter and Facebook. They know that these sites do not respect their social media privacy rights. But they continue to use them despite the risks. Lincoln Park Strategies founder Stefan Hankin says that it’s not because they don’t worry enough about social media privacy. He says that it is because these sites have a hold on them. Facebook and Twitter are two of the most used sites. People use them to stay in touch with people who they may not otherwise be able to communicate with. This is a strong hold to have over people. It may even be causing some people to claim more trust in social media privacy than they really feel.
Specific Social Media Privacy Qualms
Three quarters of the respondents said they were disturbed by cookies that websites secretly put on their computers for tracking purposes. Only a third said that they were able to find these kinds of cookies. Nearly three quarters of them said that they assume that websites such as Yahoo and Google are also selling their information, and collecting it for this purpose. They are aware that websites earn a lot from companies who use this data for targeted advertising.
Ironically, only 17 percent of the respondents read the terms of service before using a website. Almost a quarter of them sign up without even looking at the terms. This is a serious contradiction that Hankin says is one of the key social media privacy problems.
The survey showed that older people have less trust in social media privacy. This is mainly because they grew up in a time when it was not so difficult to keep things secret. With the Internet, it is much easier for information to spread around the world. This makes older people more careful, and therefore more anxious about social media privacy. They have experienced both worlds, so to speak, and are more inclined to call for better social media privacy laws. They also have the experience to know what effects privacy breaches can have.
Younger people tend to trust social media privacy more, perhaps simply because they are used to it. They grew up with the online world and thus are not as concerned. Sometimes this is because they have learned how to stay safe from an early age. But this could be changing as well. A similar survey from 2013 showed that 15% of people trusted social media privacy compared to this year’s 7%. That survey also showed that only 10% trust online ads. So one consolation could be that although companies lure us into social media to take our data for profit, most people aren’t taking ad bait.