Report: For Social Media Users Privacy Is a Huge Concern

What do social networking users worry about most? According to a new survey the answer is privacy.

What do social networking users worry about most? According to a new survey the answer is privacy.

A study conducted by Barracuda Networks reveals that social media users report significant concerns about privacy. Barracuda Networks is “a global multi-disciplinary research and threat analysis team that fulfills a critical role in developing innovative technologies across Barracuda Networks’ business areas. Barracuda Labs’ threat research areas include email, Web, network and cloud security and technology.” According to the press release, the study focused on “hundreds” of social networking users from over 20 countries. The study was conducted over a period of two weeks between September and October 2011.

According to the survey a staggering nine out of 10 people have received spam via a social networking site. Not only that, but apparently one in four users report having received a virus or malware via social media. Dr. Paul Judge, chief research officer and vice president for Barracuda Networks notes that: “Social networks are a significant part of how we communicate with one another. At the same time, the dangers associated with social networking have climbed exponentially.” He continues, “The fact that nine out of 10 users already have been attacked proves that attackers are taking over social networks and users are living in fear.”

While the “living in fear” may be a little extreme, the fact that 9 out of 10 people on social networking sites report receiving spam is a significant statistic. According to the survey, one of the factors which impacts what social network a person wants to use is ease of use; however, the strength of a social network’s privacy and security settings are also a factor. Further, 95% percent of social media users believe that it is important for social networks to do a better job of protecting people against account high jacking and 92% of respondents said they were concerned about identity theft due to social networking use.

As for social networking in the workplace, 86% of users who responded to the survey thought that employee behavior on social networks can endanger company security, and one in five people reported being negatively impacted by information that was exposed through a social network.

So, which social networks are the worst when it comes to privacy? According to the survey, 51% of Facebook users expressed displeasure with privacy controls and 84% of MySpace users reported feeling unsafe.

If Barracuda is to believed, the social networking privacy situation is dire for users. However, the question is: can Barracuda Networks’ study be believed? The short answer is yes. The study does provide insight into the concerns of social networking users, particularly in terms of privacy.  Clearly, social media users want to feel safe and protected and feel that current privacy controls aren’t adequate. However, Barracuda Networks’ specializes in privacy protection and the details of the survey are somewhat vague. Moreover, “hundreds” of respondents is not a significant or concrete enough number to truly reveal the thoughts and feeling of social networkers as a whole. That said, Barracuda’s study does reveal that as social media grows so does the demand for better privacy settings.