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More Social Network Users Become Privacy Proactive

More Social Network Users Become Privacy Proactive
By Mark Long

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Nearly two-thirds of the Pew survey's respondents said they have deleted people from their social networks or friend lists -- up from 56 percent in 2009. Moreover, 44 percent told Pew they have deleted comments made by others on their social network profile. Among Pew respondents overall, 37 percent have removed their names from photos.
 

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Social networking site users are becoming more vigilant in managing their online privacy, according to a Pew Internet Project study released Friday. The survey of 2,277 American adults shows that a majority of social network users have already adopted restricted privacy settings and pruned their profiles by untagging photos, deleting comments and unfriending individuals.

"Some 67 percent of women who maintain a profile say they have deleted people from their network, compared with 58 percent of men," said the report's author, Mary Madden, a senior research specialist at the Pew Internet Project.

Young adults are even more active unfrienders when compared with older users. Additionally, the profiles that 62 percent of teens said they use most often are set to be private so that only friends can see the content they post.

Going forward, Madden believes it will be interesting to see what happens with Facebook's transition to Timeline -- a new format that gives users a more complete picture of what they have shared over the years.

"That is prompting many people to delete content that either isn't relevant or perhaps isn't appropriate for the people who are currently in their network," Madden said in an e-mail Friday. "We will be back in the field with more questions about privacy in the coming months, so we'll have a fresh look at the issue later this year."

Phase of Life Factors

When it comes to managing their social network profile privacy, 48 percent of Pew's survey respondents reported they had experienced some level of difficulty in using the available privacy controls. However, only 2 percent said that their experience was "very difficult."

Social media users between the ages of 18 and 29 are considerably more likely than any other age group to feel fully confident in their privacy controls, with 57 percent saying that it is "not difficult at all" to manage them, Pew reports. By contrast, less than half of older respondents -- 48 percent aged 30-49, 41 percent aged 50-64 and 31 percent 65 years of age or older -- said the same thing.

Younger users have been using social media tools from the outset and have weathered all of the various changes to the way information is displayed and shared, Madden said. "So in that sense, it is not surprising to see that they feel more confident in their ability to manage the settings on their profile," she said. (continued...)

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