70% don't trust Facebook with their personal information

70% don't trust Facebook with their personal information

Summary: Do you trust Facebook with your personal information? Have you changed your Facebook privacy settings? For any online service, make sure to take advantage of all the settings at your disposal.


70 percent of Facebook users do not trust the social networking giant with their personal information. Approximately 60 percent proactively adjusted their privacy settings in 2011. This is puzzling given what we heard late last year: 70 percent of Facebook users are comfortable with what they share.

The new data comes from a survey which polled Facebook users about their sharing and posting habits, as well as changes they have made to their profile and privacy settings, conducted by online privacy company Abine. The firm points out these numbers further prove the growing conflict of interest between Facebook and its users.

On the one hand, Facebook needs to get its users to share more information in order to keep advertisers satisfied. On the other hand, Facebook needs to keep its members using the service without losing their trust.

Here are some of the results:

  • 76 percent growth in the number of Facebook users adjusting their privacy setting between 2009-2011.
  • Only 8 percent of users polled have never changed their privacy settings.
  • 43 percent increase in the number of Facebook users who said they are “very concerned” about their privacy after the IPO compared to before the IPO.

While Facebook users seek more privacy, they continue to share large quantities of personal information on their profiles:

  • 88 percent reported sharing gender.
  • 84 percent reported sharing photos.
  • 74 percent reported sharing date of birth.
  • 63 percent reported sharing relationship status.
  • 40 percent reported sharing sexual orientation.

I wouldn't call that a problem, unless Facebook users are doing so unknowingly. Last year, Facebook rolled out inline privacy controls to help reduce the confusion.

"We all use Facebook to connect, share, and stay in touch with friends and family, but that doesn't mean we want all of our private information out there for the entire world to see," Abine CEO William Kerrigan said in a statement. "We're starting to see a real shift in Facebook users' behavior. Today, the only thing growing faster than Facebook's user base is the number of its users setting their privacy settings."

See also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • Anything on the Internet shouldn't be trusted for that matter

    Every social network is like that, because selling "you" is their business.
    Ram U
    • Privacy? What Privacy?

      After having a membership for more than 5 years I finally got the big bang from Facebook itself. LOCKED OUT! This is the worst possible thing that can happen to you especially if you are a member in good standing which I was. All my privacy setting were set according to what was best for me. I had more than 15 groups helping others using Facebook and how they could setup their own privacy profile correctly. Some member and a friend happened to allow an app to get into her profile by allowing entrance. That app invite appeared on my wall last Monday and when I tried to block it it also signed me out of Facebook closed down my computer and also had Facebook lock me out. No amt. of emails seems to tell Facebook that I am who I say I am so I am no longer on Facebook. As for taking out another profile on this horrible site not a f**king chance in hell. As for security on Facebook there is none not as long as these spammy apps are allowed to run. I will never trust another networking site again. If Facebook has such wonderful privacy controls why does these controld get thrown back to defauly on every Facebook update and change. Think about it! As Rama said "Selling you is their business!' and boy do they every sell you.
  • "comfortable with what you share" is not "you haven't tweaked the privacy"

    "comfortable with what you share" is not equivalent to "you haven't tweaked the privacy settings." This is what happens when you're not careful with the conclusions you make with your current data.

    There is no indication that the "comfortable with what you share" survey (which I'm having trouble finding, so I'm only going by what your article says) equates "comfort" with "I never adjusted my privacy settings." Many people are likely comfortable [i]because[/i] they locked down their profile and don't share their personal information.

    Indeed, you don't really need to share your personal info with Facebook. You can leave fields such as your phone number and address blank for all they care. You may be comfortable because you never shared your personal info with Facebook to begin with!

    Seriously, you need to be a lot more careful not to extrapolate conclusions from data that simply don't come from the data.
  • Yet they'll trust the friend, of a freind, of a friend they never met

    with their personal information.
    William Farrel
    • Not me...

      I haven't uploaded a photo to facebook in years (once I realized that they own what you upload), and I've set everthing to just Friends, not friends of friends. I really just use it as a messaging application these days.
  • Re: 70 percent don't trust Facebook with their personal information

    Yet 100% of them are brain-dead enough to give it to Farcebook anyway.

    If people are STUPID enough to put personal info on ANY of these idiotic social networking sites...then stop whining about what the consequenses...because they are asking for someone to stalk them, send them viruses, trojans, steal their identity, etc., etc.
    • Overreact much?

      I've had a FB account for years. I have no problem with the personal information I share because I share very little. If someone who I haven't accepted as a friend somehow finds my page, they will see a picture of me and my wife, and nothing else. Good luck trying to stalk, steal, infect, etc., etc. with only a single picture to go by.

      Those I deem "friends" get slightly more information. They get random thoughts and comments. They get my book and beer reviews. And they get GPS maps of the routes I run or bike (after the fact) that concerns me not at all because I don't view my friends as a threat. I've had exactly one person exhibit stalking behavior, but she lived 8,000 miles away with zero chance of making it to this country, so her damage was limited to being a Facebook annoyance (easily remedied by blocking her from my page). Again, no worries about stalkers, viruses, trojans, identity theft, etc. etc.
  • I have a Facebook account

    I have various access categories set up for everyone friended.
    I have the absolute minimum demographic information entered, i.e. I think my name field is filled in, and relationship to family members, that's it.
    I don't use preferences for anything.
    I'll like someone else's comments, and use it for a public or semi-private forum for "talking" to various relatives, friends, or acquaintences.
    Not that they can't, but if Facebook wants to use my "data"; they're going to have to parse all my messages and figure out their contexts before it's of any use to them.
  • It's a site whose sole function is to share information.

    Yet they're concerned about someone seeing it?
  • Interesting story and data


    Shaun Dakin here from @PrivacyCamp and #PrivChat. I'm very interested in the delta between what people say and what they actually do.

    I've been following the facebook privacy "story" since 2008 and it was extremely interesting to see the outcry regarding facebook privacy (over and over again).

    Many people say they care, and then don't do a thing.

    There can be several solutions:

    - technology (Abine has great stuff, as does ghostery)
    - govt regulations (do not track, etc.. )
    - consumer education (Priveazy.com etc...)


    Shaun Dakin
    Founder @PrivacyCamp
  • Ditched Facebook long ago....

    How could I not ditch Facebook long ago? I'm a software professional and this software company was doing every unethical thing possible in our profession...
  • But do users know what they are sharing on Facebook?

    The author hit the nail on the head when he said sharing is not a problem as long as the the sharing is being done knowingly. However...

    At Priveazy.com, we have lessons about various online security and privacy topics. Of the users that have gone through the Priveazy lesson about Facebook and have done the step-by-step tasks to lock down their Facebook profile, 74% said they were sharing more information than they realized.

    This is yet another data point that shows that Facebook is still not doing a good enough job communicating with users about how they are collecting, using, and sharing user's information.
  • But they STILL post the information ....

  • Why would I?

    One fine day I find one of my friends in another country calling me on my Mobile and THEN find out its in plain sight for anyone looking for it. After this why do you expect me to trust anything? Would you?
  • You can only educate some people

    Dumb people you can educate, provide them with info/ school and they should no longer be dumb!
    But "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID". These people are more stupid than stupid! They want to be in touch/ know thousands of people. So they join Facebook, give out all kinds of information to join. Then they worry about privacy. STUPID!!!!!!
    If you don't want someone to know when you last used the restroom, "THEN DON'T PUT IT ON Facebook!" HELLO, Stupid!!!!!!!!!
    These people are the same ones who will not lock their front doors and in some cases will actually leave the front door open and then wonder why their house got robbed!!! Hello Stupid! I'm always amazed at how "stupid" people can be and then they want to blame others for "Their Stupidity!"
    All in all we can only "try" to educate the dumb ones! You can't fix "stupid", stupid is forever and ever and ever!!!!!!