Only 29 Percent Of Social Media Users Are Up-To-Date On Privacy
November 14, 2013

Social Media Privacy A Concern For Only A Quarter Of Internet Users

Enid Burns for – Your Universe Online

More than four out of five US adults, or 82 percent, now use social media, yet only 29 percent are up-to-date on their privacy settings. That's according to a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive on privacy concerns around social media. The survey's findings were published on the blog of Internet security firm ESET, who commissioned the survey.

Social media sites constantly change their privacy settings as they develop areas of the site. For instance, a recent change to Facebook's privacy settings made all users searchable, even users who had previously set their preferences to be seen only by friends in their network. It is because of changes such as this users are encouraged to review privacy settings on a regular basis. That is not always what happens, however.

In the poll, 28 percent of respondents said they had read the most recent privacy policy for all social media accounts. Fifty-one percent of poll respondents said no, they hadn’t. A small number fell in between: nine percent said they had reviewed the privacy policy for most of their social media accounts, and 12 percent said they had for some.

"Why is it so important to know the terms under which a social media service operates? To prevent surprises when you share information, like your name and face showing up in an advert for a product you once said you liked," wrote ESET's Stephen Cobb, in the blog post.

Facebook is typically used as an example and has put the names and likenesses of its users in ads. It is not the only social network to use its members in the name of advertising.

It is actually the younger users who take more control of the privacy settings on their social media accounts, Forbes reports. Those less likely to check social media privacy settings are those over 45. Of those over 45 years of age, 26 percent have never made any change to their settings. Among the 18 to 44 age group, 11 percent have never made changes to their privacy settings.

Responsibility is another issue that the poll asked about. When asked who is most responsible for online safety -- as in Internet privacy and security -- 64 percent stated that individuals were responsible, 17 percent said ISPs, and 12 percent responded social media is responsible. Regulators should take responsibility according to just three percent, institutions were the response for two percent, and two percent answered "someone else."

"Lack of attention to privacy and security on social media does seem to be at odds with the belief in individual responsibility. This is even more surprising when you consider the negative experiences of more than a few users," wrote Cobb. "For example, 28 percent of social media users said that one or more of their social media accounts had been hacked. For more than half of those people the hacking had occurred this year."

An overwhelming majority of survey respondents (91 percent) reported receiving at least one suspicious electronic message this year. Most of those messages were received via email, however social media was infiltrated by suspicious messages for a third of social media users.