User Survey Results: What Do Young Female Users Think of the Facebook Privacy Debate?

[Editor’s Note: The data cited in this article is excerpted from Inside Facebook Gold, our membership service tracking Facebook’s business and growth around the world. Visit Inside Facebook Gold to learn more about our complete data and analysis offering.]

Facebook privacy is a big issue — at least to some people. In our latest user survey, we set out to research whether ordinary Facebook users are concerned about the social network’s changing privacy policies.

A quick recap on the issue: Facebook has repeatedly run into criticism over user privacy following various product launches, including news feeds, Connect, and the ill-fated ad platform Beacon. This May, public anger at Facebook appeared to reach a fever pitch as the company released new features that would bring up user information on external websites like Yelp and Pandora.

We covered the issues exhaustively on Inside Facebook. However, even our coverage left a question open: do ordinary users care? The loudest voices against Facebook came from the tech community, which one might reasonably expect to have high expectations for being able to customize privacy options. Other users, with less web expertise (and without megaphones) may not feel very strongly.

This question is an important one for brand advertisers, marketers, app developers and other websites that plan to integrate social features. All of these groups are eager for more contact with Facebook’s half-billion users, but they also need to know where the comfort boundaries are.

Below, we focus specifically on survey responses from several dozen female users who are mostly under 25 — an age group one might expect to be fairly tech-savvy.

Our broadest question about Facebook privacy turned up only a small group, 25 percent, that was concerned. A plurality, 39 percent, were neutral, while about an equal number, 36 percent, felt comfortable with the privacy of their information on Facebook.

Interestingly, another question we posed to users (full results are only available on Inside Facebook Gold) shows a change toward a more neutral opinion when we asked specifically about Facebook’s efforts.

Below we asked about user’s confidence levels in using the privacy tools Facebook provides:

Here, a full 50 percent of users have only a moderate level of confidence that they know how to use the tools. This contrasts with another finding, which showed that users were by and large happy with the tools.

This is an area that Facebook could certainly improve upon; many users have been confused about how to add or remove specific information from their pages. Facebook’s regular redesigns likely make this task more difficult.

However, the picture is by and large one of satisfaction. While there is a significant minority, at least of young female users, who feel that privacy is a problem on Facebook, that user group is not currently sizeable enough that it should cause Facebook serious concern — although as we’ve already seen, new problems are only a redesign away.

What does this demographic of users think of privacy on a feature-specific level, and what changes (if any) have they made in how they interact with Facebook? The full results of this survey, as well as extensive demographic data for Facebook’s audiences around the world, is only available to members of Inside Facebook Gold, our data membership service. To learn more or join, please see