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So Many Social Users, So Little Trust

Majority of internet users concerned about privacy on social media

The US social network audience is big—172.6 million people in 2014, or 54% of the population and 68.6% of internet users, eMarketer estimates. Based on June 2014 research by Harris Interactive for WP Engine, many of those users are likely worried about privacy on such platforms.

Digital Platforms on Which US Internet Users Are Concerned About Their Privacy, June 2014 (% of respondents)

Among the US adult internet users polled, 66% said they were concerned about their privacy on social networks such as Facebook—the top response. That’s not even the entire social picture. The study broke out platforms that many consider social networks into their own categories. More than one-third of respondents were worried about privacy on social photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram. Around one-quarter were concerned about security on microblogging sites like Twitter, and a similar percentage said the same about disappearing photo-sharing apps such as Snapchat.

A May 2014 study by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies, and craigconnects’ Craig Newmark found similar results. Among the US adult internet users polled, 57% had little or no trust at all in social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Meanwhile, 22% of respondents had some trust in social platforms, while 7% trusted social a lot.

US Internet Users Who Do Not Trust* Social Networks, by Age, May 2014 (% of respondents in each group)

One-third of internet users ages 55 to 64 said they didn’t trust social media sites, while just 1% did, with a similar trend among the 65-and-older group. Meanwhile, 24% of 35- to 54-year-olds didn’t trust social networks, compared with 6% who said the opposite. The under-35 bracket was the only one where those who trusted social media outnumbered those who didn’t—but by a small gap of 4 points (16% vs. 12%).

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