The current privacy atmosphere within social networking sites was uncovered in a Privacy Management report released today by Pew Internet. The study questioned social media users on privacy options, friending (& defriending) habits, and the removal of comments and photo tags. Two-thirds of online adults were active on a social networking sites (SNS), the majority of which restrict access, prune friends or delete content they don’t like.
The majority of users, 58 percent, reported profile restrictions were fully private and only visible to their friends. This percentage was much higher for women (67% fully private) than men (48% fully private.) Only 20% of users keep their main profile completely public.
A surprising stat was that the age of the user doesn’t matter much when it comes to privacy settings. Each age group were within a few percentage points when it came to privacy with no significant variations found. Statistical variations were also missing when comparing teens and adults. All settings were within a few percentage points with teens actually being a tad more private.
Nearly one-half (48%) of social networking users report difficulty with privacy settings, but one group had the most trouble – the college educated. Nearly two-thirds of users with college degrees reported having difficulty with privacy settings, while only 42% of users with “some education” had trouble with the settings. While more of the college grads reported having some difficulty, it didn’t seem to be too much for them. Only 2% of the grads classified privacy settings as “very difficult.”
Not surprisingly, the younger the user the easier time they had with privacy settings. 57% of social media users aged 18-29 said that it isn’t difficult at all to manage privacy settings while 41% of the 30-49 age bracket report the same, and an even lower 31% of users 65 or over reported settings as “not difficult at all.”
The deletion of friends, photo tags and comments is on the rise in social networking. This profile pruning is up across the board from 2009 numbers, with nearly all categories seeing more management in 2011:
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of users have deleted people from social networks, up from 56% in 2009. Comment deletion is up as well from 36% in 2009 to 44% in 2011. Here’s the full breakdown of social pruning metrics by age:
While profile pruning has become a way of life, 11% of users wish they had filtered a regrettable comment that they posted. Male users were especially unfiltered as 15% have posted regrettable content to social networks, nearly double the 8% of females users that felt regret.
For full statistics and survey data see the Pew Internet report.