Most Americans Have Privacy Concerns, Yet Underestimate Consequences of Revealing
Too Much Personal Information on Social Networks
NEW YORK, October 25, 2010 - A new national survey reveals half of Americans who use social networking sites have seen people divulge too much personal information, yet more than a quarter of Americans who use these sites (28 percent) admit that they rarely think about what could happen if they shared too much personal information online.
Additionally, more than four in ten Americans (44 percent) are concerned that the personal information they share online is being used against them, and more than one in five Americans who use social networking sites (21 percent) believe that their personal information has been accessed by people who take advantage of weak privacy settings on social networking sites.
The 2010 Lawyers.com Social Networking Survey, as well as legal tips and resources on the risks associated with the use of social media - the leading legal website for consumers and small business owners. Conducted by TNS Global, the survey was commissioned by LexisNexis to better understand Americans' attitudes and behaviors toward sharing personal information on social networks.
"The Lawyers.com Social Networking Survey results reveals a clear disconnect between the privacy concerns of users and their actual behaviors and disclosures on social networking sites," said Carol Eversen, vice president of Marketing at LexisNexis. "Nearly every week we hear about the negative consequences resulting from inappropriate disclosures and uses of personal information on social networking sites but the data suggests that Americans are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves."
Sharing Personal Information Online, How Much is Too Much?
More than half of Americans who use social networking sites have seen people divulge too much personal information online. In fact, the majority of Americans who use social networking sites admit that they've posted their first and last name (69 percent), photos of themselves (67 percent), or an email address (51 percent) on a social networking site. In addition, survey respondents have also shared the following details on a social networking site:
- Travel plans (16 percent)
- Cell phone numbers (7 percent)
- Home address (4 percent)
Determining how much is too much is still a struggle for many people. Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) agree that sometimes it is hard to figure out what information to share and what to keep private.
Consequences with Sharing Personal Information Online
As many Americans struggle with what type of personal information to post online and keep private, they also seldom think about the consequences of sharing personal information online. More than a quarter of Americans (28 percent) admit they rarely think about what could happen if they shared to much personal information online.
A quarter of Americans who use social networking sites (25 percent) say that they have seen people "misrepresent" themselves (e.g. posted incorrect information, created fake profiles etc.) and alarmingly, more than one in ten Americans who use social networking sites (14 percent) say that they have received communication from strangers as a result of sharing information on a social networking site.
Other backlash from using social networking sites includes:
- Someone posting unflattering pictures of them (11 percent)
- Having personal relationships with family or friends affected from revealing too much information (7 percent)
- Being scolded or yelled at for information they've posted (6 percent)
Surprisingly, 38 percent of Americans agree that people who share too much of their personal information online deserve to have their information used inappropriately.
Privacy Concerns and Exploitation
Three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) worry that the privacy settings on social networking sites are not adequately protecting their personal information, yet more than four in ten Americans (43 percent) admit that they typically just click "agree" without reading the entire terms and conditions on social networking sites.
Meanwhile, many believe that their personal information may already be in the wrong hands. More than four in ten Americans (44 percent) are concerned that the personal information they share online is being used against them, and one in five Americans who use social networking sites (21 percent) believe that their personal information has been accessed by people who take advantage of weak privacy settings on social networking sites.
Four in ten Americans (40 percent) think it is okay for managers to monitor their employees' personal tweets and Facebook pages, and the same percentage of Americans who use social networking sites believe that losing their job because of information they've posted on a social networking site could happen to them. Yet, more than half of Americans (53 percent) agree that inappropriate comments or posts on social networking sites should not affect someone's employment.
"We encourage consumers to take advantage of the information and resources available at Lawyers.com to learn more about the risks associated with questionable disclosures on social networking sites," said Carol Eversen.
About the survey
The Lawyers.com Social Networking survey was conducted by the omnibus field services of TNS Global on behalf of LexisNexis in September 2010 among a national sample of 1,000 Americans 18+ (balanced to census).
LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of content-enabled workflow solutions designed specifically for professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets. LexisNexis originally pioneered online information with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. A member of Reed Elsevier [NYSE: ENL; NYSE: RUK] (www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in more than 100 countries with 15,000 employees worldwide.
Lawyers.com (www.lawyers.com), from LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®, is the leading legal destination on the Web, providing consumers and small business professionals the information they need to learn about specific legal issues, understand their legal options, and find the right lawyer for their needs. Lawyers.com provides a free database of more than one million attorneys and law firms nationwide and helps site visitors make a fast, informed decision when researching legal matters and choosing a lawyer. More than two million searches per month are conducted through Lawyers.com by consumers and business people in search of legal information and the right legal representation for their needs
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