A recent study conducted by Pew Research published on Friday, February 24 in the Washington Post, and distributed nationally by the Associated Press, indicated that Social Media users are “managing their privacy settings and their online reputation more often than they did two years earlier.” You can read the entire article by clicking here.
Nearly half of respondents said that they deleted comments from their profile, where two years ago, only 36 percent indicated the same thing.
Here are some other findings, published here directly from the article, that may interest you. The paragraph labels in red are my own.
Women. Women are much more likely than men to restrict their profiles. Pew found that 67 percent of women set their profiles so that only their “friends” can see it. Only 48 percent of men did the same.
Education. Think all that time in school taught you something? People with the highest levels of education reported having the most difficulty figuring out their privacy settings. That said, only 2 percent of social media users described privacy controls as “very difficult to manage.”
Privacy. The report found no significant differences in people’s basic privacy controls by age. In other words, younger people were just as likely to use privacy controls as older people. Sixty-two percent of teens and 58 percent of adults restricted access to their profiles to friends only.
Young Adults. Young adults were more likely than older people to delete unwanted comments. Fifty-six percent of social media users aged 18 to 29 said they have deleted comments that others have made on their profile, compared with 40 percent of those aged 30 to 49 and 34 percent of people aged 50 to 64.
Men. Men are more likely to post something they later regret. Fifteen percent of male respondents said they posted something regrettable, compared with 8 percent of female respondents.
Regrets. Possibly proving that with age comes wisdom, young adults were more likely to post something regrettable than their older counterparts. Fifteen percent of social network users aged 18 to 29 said they have posted something regrettable. Only 5 percent of people over 50 said the same thing.
Here is how the study was done. Pew Research conducted a phone survey of 2,277 adults in April and May 2011. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. The data about teens came from a separate phone survey Pew conducted with teenagers and their parents.
Are you surprised by this? Is your own use in line with these findings? What would you have said if you were surveyed with the same questions?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
It’s not about abortion. It’s about the next 20 years. Twenties and thirties, it was the role of government. Fifties and sixties, it was civil rights. The next two decades, it’s gonna be privacy. I’m talking about the Internet. I’m talking about cellphones. I’m talking about health records, and who’s gay and who’s not. And moreover, in a country born on a will to be free, what could be more fundamental than this?
The West Wing — “The Short List”
Story By: Aaron Sorkin & Dee Dee Myers (script here).
I keep thinking about business decisions, and how much impact they have on others.
And I keep thinking about personal decisions, and how much impact they have on others.
And I keep thinking about when to make what public. But, it may not be up to the company, or the individual, to say… Not anymore.
Technology keeps moving forward. What we can do, we seem to do. And, so, if I can put a message on Facebook, everybody has a chance of seeing it. And, if someone else has a message about me, a photo of me, a video of me, and if I am famous enough, or important enough, or silly enough, there is a pretty good chance it will spread far and wide.
In the first season of The West Wing, there is a “shoo-in” supreme court appointee who is rejected by President Bartlet because of his understanding of privacy.
The episode first aired in November, 1999, pretty much before any of us had high-speed for the internet, long before Twitter and MySpace were born, quite a few years before Facebook became so omnipresent. The script was written by Dee Dee Myers, and Aaron Sorkin, who recently wrote the screen-play for the movie The Social Network, about Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In the news this week, Facebook’s security was breached, and a whole lot of information about actual people went tumbling out for many to see.
It’s being claimed that some of the most popular applications on Facebook have been transmitting information identifying users.
The company said that it would introduce new technology to limit the security breach.
Facebook developer Mike Vernal blogged: ” We take user privacy seriously. We are dedicated to protecting private user data.”
(Read the story here).
I do realize that I can choose what to post in my Facebook page, and in/on my Tweets.
But in a world where people secretly (and publicly) take pictures, and videos, and put them up for the world to see, it seems that this discussion of privacy from the first season of The West Wing is eerily prescient, and a still unsettled issue of our day.
“What could be more fundamental than this?” asked Sam Seaborn. It’s a good question.
Way, way back in my graduate school days, we studied the work of Chaïm Perelman (and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca). They wrote the book The New Rhetoric (my copy is buried in storage). Perelman developed this idea of a “universal audience.” To oversimplify, he argued that every communication moment, every attempt at persuasion, had two audiences – the particular, immediate audience, and then a larger, more “universal” audience. The size, the make-up of this universal audience was tough to define, but the idea leads to this simple underlying concept: what you say in one place, to one specific, particular audience, will be heard, and interpreted, (and misinterpreted) in many more places. And when that happens, people will evaluate you, and your message, in ways that you never quite intended or expected.
I think back to this idea frequently as I read about difficulties in this “information spreads far and wide” society that we now live in. This morning, there is an article on Slate.com by the always helpful Farhad Manjoo, Didn’t Mean for You To See That, Grandma: Things you post on Facebook have a way of reaching more people than you want. Now the site has a solution. The article addresses Facebook’s new attempt at a solution for the new world problem: someone puts a photo up for his or her “friends,” and then a parent, or a future boss, finds it.
And, there are more than a few stories about political figures saying something to one person/group, and the audio or video is picked up, and the world hears it.
In other words, there are basically no “closed audiences” any more. You cannot guarantee control of your audience. Or, consider it this way. “What you say in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.”
Here are a couple of observations:
#1 – Always assume that what you say to one audience, even an audience of one, will be heard by a much, much larger audience. So, be intentional, be thoughtful, be a grown-up…be careful.
#2 – This can be good news. Sure, you can say something that will hurt you But you can also say things, do things, that when spread far and wide, the larger audience thinks more highly of you.
It’s the new world. What you say to one audience will most likely be heard by a much larger audience. Remember that every audience can be bigger than you ever imagined – remember your universal audience.
Well, I think we all learned a pretty big lesson about the world we live in this week. In case you missed it – and it would have been hard to miss – here is the story about what Gordon Brown said (to an aide – in private – in his car!)
Here is the lesson:
There is no private communication (not much private anything) any longer.
You may think you are safe, but…, whatever you say, wherever you say it, whatever you do, wherever you do it, you need to assume that it will be seen, heard, and judged.
Someone has a microphone, someone has an iPhone with a video camera – even in what you think are situations of privacy.
So – the old advice is truer than ever –
“if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”