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 newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internet privacyPewsocial networkingFacebookprivacy

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

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?