70% don't trust Facebook with their personal information

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.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

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."

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