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Social Media Users Becoming More Privacy-Conscious

27 February 2012
social-media-and-privacy

Users of social media sites have been found to be “unfriending” other users and increasingly “pruning” their personal profiles according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The latest research, conducted between April 26 to May 22, 2011, revealed more than 60 percent of social media users said last year that they deleted people from their friends lists, up from 56 percent in 2009; and 26 percent of users who keep their profiles private say they apply additional privacy settings to limit what some friends can see.

Also on the rise is Profile “pruning” or deleting comments that friends leave and untagging themselves in photos.

Women are significantly more likely to keep their profiles private, and are more likely to unfriend people than men are, with 67 percent of women saying they’ve removed friends, compared with 58 percent of men.

Young people are also more likely to manage their social media presences by deleting comments and untagging photos.

The report highlights a divide between those who appear to care about privacy when it comes to social networks and those who seemingly do not. As the Pew report notes, this could be that avid users of social media, who share lots of personal details, have abandoned any expectations of privacy, or are “uniquely unconcerned” about online privacy.

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On the flip-side, Pew suggest that the public still “cares deeply about their privacy online but those sensitivities have been ill-served by technology companies.”

Pew is careful not to point to Facebook directly throughout the report, but notes that Facebook is by far the most popular U.S. social network (in its recent S-1 filing, Facebook showed that its user base has ballooned to more than 845 million). Pew’s report says that the term “privacy settings” — as well as “unfriend” — are part and parcel of the Facebook experience.

The Pew survey on Internet usage, conducted between April and May of last year, sampled more than 2,200 U.S. adults 18 and older. The survey found that two-thirds of U.S. Internet users had profiles on social media sites, up from just 20 percent in 2006.

What does this suggest about the future of lead generation from social media sites?

In a word…Trust.

As a business owner or operator, the best way to get into the inner circle of your fans, friends, followers and connections on social media is to make sure you’re always providing relevance and value.

Whether on Facebook (with it’s 845 million strong community), Twitter (having surpassed 500 million) or LinkedIn with a professional community of 150 million members, you want to be seen to be solving problems and protecting their interests by offering sound advice and actionable insights.

If you’re truly the leader in your field, this will be a “no brainer”.