Internet privacy worries are eroding, Pew finds

Survey finds that Internet users are now less concerned with the amount of information available about them online

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg's vision for a less private Internet is slowly coming to fruition, a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests.

Compared to 2006, Internet users are now less concerned with the amount of information available about them online. Moreover, the percentage of people who take steps to limit this online information has dropped over the last three years.

Across all age groups, Internet users are less concerned and less active with their personal information. Just 30 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are worried about their online information, compared with 38 percent three years ago. The same trend is happening with older folks: 8 percent fewer are concerned, and 8 percent fewer have taken steps to limit their online personal data.

Young people are more proactive in guarding their privacy, Pew found. Late teens and twentysomethings are more likely than their elders to limit personal information available online, and that likelihood decreases with age. In the 18-to-29 age bracket, 71 percent of people said they've changed privacy settings on social networking sites, compared with 55 percent of people ages 50 to 64. Still, their views on privacy have also eroded over the last three years.

The attitude shift has yielded an interesting and logical result: More adults than ever -- 57 percent compared with 47 percent in 2006 -- have looked up their own names in search engines. That's known as "egosurfing" in geek lingo, but Pew prefers to call it "reputation management," and says it's "a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young."

In other words, people are less worried about how much of their personal information is in the shadows, and more concerned with how they're portrayed in the light. It's Zuckerberg's dream coming to life. As VentureBeat's Kim-Mai Cutler noted in a story on Zuckerberg's privacy views, the Facebook boss favors "radical transparency" for Internet users. A quote from Zuckerberg in David Kirkpatrick's book "The Facebook Effect" says it all:

"To get people to this point where there's more openness - that's a big challenge. But I think we'll do it. I just think it will take time," Zuckerberg said. With his site under fire for pushing to make users' personal lives public, the question is whether Facebook can ride it out until that point.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internet privacyPewsocial networkingFacebookprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?