Facebook Raises Privacy Concerns for Many, UT Research Shows

Published: Jun 9, 2009
New research by a University of Tampa professor shows that Facebook users are concerned about their privacy, but they aren’t doing a whole lot to protect it, they don’t know the privacy policy and they aren’t aware of how their information can be used.

Dr. Natasha Veltri, assistant professor of information and technology management, surveyed 254 active Facebook users and found that 71 percent were concerned that information they provide to the social networking site will be used for commercial purposes. Eighty percent said they were worried that information could be used by government agencies or human resources departments.
 
Still most of the users said they didn’t know Facebook’s privacy policy and only a quarter knew how information could or could not be used by the site. Almost all of the users said they use their real first and last name on Facebook, instead of a pseudonym or partial name.
 
Of the people in the study, only 17 percent said they reveal personal and/or intimate details on their profile or wall posts, but nearly half say they update their profile often. A majority said they only share information with their friends, but the same number said they have more than 200 “friends” on Facebook.

“The numbers clearly indicate that there is a concern, yet Facebook users are still posting,” Veltri said. “While privacy concerns have heightened over the last couple of years, the gist of the social networking is in sharing and communicating.”

A Facebook user herself, Veltri focused on Facebook for consistency and because of its popularity —the site overtook Myspace as the most popular social networking site in 2008, according to comScore, an Internet marketing research company.

The best way to protect your privacy, Veltri said, is to familiarize yourself with Facebook’s privacy policy, so you can make an informed choice about what to share online.