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Online privacy is a major issue with consumers right now, and users—whether men or women, old or young—have different preferences when it comes to sharing personal information on social media sites.
Market research company uSamp surveyed 600 social media users who visited such sites at least a few times a week. It found that 28.2% of both male and female respondents said they were somewhat or very uncomfortable with the privacy protection on social media sites, and another 4.2% said they were uncertain. Comparing men to women, by age, a higher percentage of men were very or somewhat comfortable with privacy protection, with the exception of respondents ages 50 and older. Of females that age, 57.2% were somewhat or very comfortable, compared to 45.2% of men ages 50 and up.
The “Social Media Habits and Privacy Concerns Study” also found that 67.2% of respondents change their primary settings to control who has access to what they publish, while 21.9% use the default settings of the social site.
Comparing men and women, there are often differences between the two groups when it comes to what content users are willing to share on social media sites. Women, in particular, do not like to share their contact information, as only 4.5% said they would share their physical address, 20.1% their more general geographic location and 4.1% their phone number. Of men, 11.1%, 35.3% and 15.1%, respectively, reported that they would share that information.
Men were also more willing to share their political affiliation—57.1% said they would, compared to 50.2% of women—and their personal photos, with 60.7% of men willing to do so, compared to 50.9% of women.
More often, however, differences showed up between users of different ages. Among female social network users ages 18 to 24, 85.7% were willing to share their race or ethnicity, compared to 80.3% of 25- to 34-year-olds, 70.8% of those age 35 to 49 and 63.5% of users ages 50 or older.
As the issue of privacy on social media heats up in 2012, marketers and social networks are interested in finding out more information in order to better target ads, but users are still determining how much they want to share online. By focusing on what users prefer to share, such as brand affiliation and shopping habits, marketers can still reach their ideal customers without invading the privacy of all social media users.
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Check out today’s other articles, “US Consumers Hold Businesses Accountable for Online Privacy” and “Microblogs Overtake Social Networks in China.”
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