Surveys: Social-networking users worry about privacy

Results from The Marist Institute for Public Opinion and Webroot show privacy is still a concern for many

Privacy remains a concern for a significant portion of people who use social-networking sites, if the findings from two recent surveys are any indication.

In recent months, industry observers have debated to what extent people are worried about the privacy policies and controls of the social-networking sites they use.

Some hold that the rise of services like Twitter, where most users post public status updates, shows that people are more relaxed about how and what they share online. Others argue that being able to carefully control who sees what you post still matters.

A survey of U.S. social-networking users conducted by The Marist Institute for Public Opinion found that 50 percent of them are either "concerned" or "very concerned" about privacy. The other respondents are either "not very concerned" or "not concerned at all," according to the survey, whose findings were released Wednesday. Marist said it polled 1,004 people by telephone.

A separate survey from security company Webroot shed some light on geolocation services, which many social-networking sites are adopting and which allow users to broadcast where they are at any particular moment.

For the study, Webroot polled 1,645 social-networking users in the U.S. and the U.K. who own "geolocation-ready" mobile phones, and found that 39 percent have used geolocation tools and applications.

Among those, 55 percent worry that geolocation use erodes their privacy, while 45 percent are concerned about tipping off burglars that they're not at home, according to the survey, whose results were released Tuesday.

Both studies found that women are generally more mindful of privacy than men, and that older people tend to be more conservative about sharing personal information than younger people.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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