Log into Twitter and Facebook at least once a day to keep online privacy fears at bay? Those are the 21st century doctor’s orders, according to a new study that says active participation in social networks just may be what the doctor ordered to calm people’s anxieties about privacy.
Whether or not someone is an active user of social networks is a direct predictor of whether their privacy concerns have increased or decreased, according to a new study conducted for msnbc.com by The Ponemon Institute.
The msnbc.com/Ponemon survey asked a random sample of 700 Internet users if they cared more, less or the same about privacy today compared to five years ago. When only one in four respondents selected the middle choice, “the same,” the study’s authors dug deeper.
And the one underlying characteristic they found was social networks, specifically that respondents who reported being avid social networkers cared less about privacy than five years ago, while those who avoid social networks cared more.
So if you find the more you poke, tweet, Google and ‘check-in,’ the less you care about online privacy, consider yourself in the majority.
Only 14 percent of avid social network users care more about privacy today than in 2006.
“When you become active in social networks, you probably have reached the conclusion that this privacy thing isn’t all that important,” said Larry Ponemon, who conducted the survey. “You probably think it’s a little bit of hype.”
The new study is a follow up to a similar study msnbc.com published five years ago that found 60 percent of users agreed that privacy is “slipping away, and that bothers me.”
In this study, 66 percent of social networkers said they have less control over their personal information than five years ago. Around 71 percent of social network avoiders reported feeling a similar slipping of control.
The findings indicate, say the study’s authors, that it’s not naivetÃ© that’s emboldening social networkers, but just a level of comfort and confidence in their decision to log in, and tweet, poke and Google away.
The findings also align with a separate 2010 study by the Ponemon Institute that found 65 percent of social network users do not set high privacy or security settings in their social media sites, and nearly 90 percent did not feel identity theft is a likely risk from using social media sites.