86% of Americans are Trying to Hide Their Web Footprint from Hackers, Advertisers, or Friends

According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans are constantly trying to hide their online data from criminals, advertisers, or unwanted friends. In fact, the survey reveals that the government and law enforcement are not the highest avoidance priorities for most Americans. Take a look at this chart detailing who Americans are avoiding when online.

Of those surveyed, 55% said they have taken steps to avoid sharing information with people, organizations, or the government with only 13% of those surveyed admitting to lying about their true identity. Most Americans are content with clearing their browsing history, disabling cookies, or even as far as deleting previous posts and comments, but only about 14% are using encryption or additional software to help them hide their data, despite their ease and availability.

The following stats will also give you a clear insight into how often privacy has been compromised. These numbers are indicative of why Americans are so guarded when it comes to personal and financial data, while being more comfortable with government intrusion.

  • 21% of internet users have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over by someone else without permission.
  • 13% of internet users have experienced trouble in a relationship between them and a family member or a friend because of something the user posted online.
  • 12% of internet users have been stalked or harassed online.
  • 11% of internet users have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information.
  • 6% of internet users have been the victim of an online scam and lost money.
  • 6% of internet users have had their reputation damaged because of something that happened online.
  • 4% of internet users have been led into physical danger because of something that happened online.
  • 1% of internet users have lost a job opportunity or educational opportunity because of something they posted online or someone posted about them.


We’d like to know if our readers have experienced these problems, so please share them in the comments. If there is a noticeable trend in privacy issues, we can share details on how to avoid them.


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