Fast Chat: Teens Hide Themselves In Plain Sight

Microsoft researcher Alice Marwick unveils how the Facebook generation thinks about online privacy. Her findings may surprise you

So ironically, it’s the adults who are more prone to privacy transgressions?
Kids design their Facebook pages and use language that assumes, “This is our space.” Parents think, “If I can look at it, I should.” I don’t think kids see it the same way. A lot of teenagers think it’s unethical. But they know that parents will look at their Facebook pages.

Are teens concerned about cookies or behavioral tracking?
We don’t see those types of concerns among kids at all. They don’t seem to be aware of the extent to which these things go on. Where the concerns come for young people is their parents, teachers seeing what they’re doing. We rarely hear teens being critical about advertising.

Microsoft funded this research. Did they influence it at all?
We’re part of an academic research team sponsored by a corporation. A big part of our mission is making sure our research is disseminated into the public and doesn’t stay in the ivory tower. Believe it or not there was not at any point a product manager or representative saying you can’t say this or you should say this. They understand the value of this scientific exploration.

Which is?
Anything that contributes to understanding how social media is changing our lives and how we’re communicating is valuable. The more we can understand its effects, that’s better for everything from designing social media to laws and regulations around it to maybe being more compassionate with our kids in how they use social media.