Over half of Americans would stop using an app if their messages could be read by others

Social media platforms must evolve to higher privacy standards -- to stop their users leaving for more secure channels.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Video: Worried about your Facebook data? Check the new privacy settings

Our social sharing behaviour drives us to tend to trust that whatever we say on social media is for our own eyes. But the furor over Cambridge Analytica's access to our data has shown consumers are not happy at all that our data is being used for gain.

Read also: Users can now live stream directly to Twitter and monetise content

Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are not only watching what we post, but Facebook is also listening to our verbal conversations to deliver more targeted ads to us.

Our attitudes are changing. Social consumers now demand better security across their social media sites -- and they're forcing the social platforms to listen to them.

The social media giants are listening. Twitter is testing an encrypted messaging feature, Yahoo is testing an invite-only group messaging app called Squirrel, and Facebook has introduced its 'Clear History' privacy control to reassure users that their data is secure and private.

Secure messaging app platform Viber has released an online survey showing what US consumers think about their personal information being shared online.

It polled a representative sample of 1,500 US online consumers in March 2018 and asked them about privacy, security, and data sharing.

Consumers do not check their privacy settings, but expect their messages to be secure.

Over half of Americans would stop using an app if their messages could be read by others ZDNet

If your current social posts or chat messages were shared publicly, which would be your greatest concern?

(Image: Viber)

Almost a third of respondents (32.5 percent) only check their privacy settings once every six months, yet 63.2 percent of men and 67.1 percent of women expect that the person they are messaging is the only one allowed to see that message.

If social posts or chat messages were shared publicly, 38.9 percent of male respondents (45.6 percent female) said they were concerned about identity theft.

Another 4.4 percent were worried that they could lose their jobs (3.8 percent female), and 3.3 percent thought that their significant other might leave them (1.6 percent female).

Over half of Americans would stop using an app if their messages could be read by others ZDNet

Would you stop using a messaging or social app if you knew your messages could be read by others?

(Image: Viber)

Customers have no tolerance for data shared to advertisers, or political managers. Over half of consumers (55 percent) would stop using a messaging app, and one in three (33.3 percent) would be most upset if their contact details were shared.

Consumers want strong end-to-end encryption across their chosen platforms. Currently, the efforts made by Twitter and Facebook do not quite reach the huge expectations of users. Consumers want secure social apps with encryption that advertisers can not access.

Read also: Social media cannot be trusted without these features

Future social apps must be developed with encryption in mind -- encrypted channels reassure users that they can have more open conversations with their connections.

With the app upgrades coming from platforms like Facebook and Twitter, will it be enough to reassure consumers that their data really is secure?

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