Smartphones are turning Americans into secret spies (survey)

A new survey found that at least half of Americans would use smartphones for filming "secret videos," especially in the workplace.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Americans could be considered a devious bunch -- or at least half of us. It's one thing for home, amateur videos to go viral when the people in them know about it.

It's another thing when smartphones enable mobile users to secretly spy and record the movements of other people. A new survey from video platform provider Qumu reveals that 50 percent of American smartphone owners would use their smartphones for recording secret videos.

That doesn't mean that all of them are acting on this impulse, but the urge is certainly there. (I'd venture the percentage is actually higher, and some of the 2,361 respondents didn't want to admit it -- even if the survey was anonymous.)

Note that all of the responses were taken from people aged 18 and over. It's also likely that a lot of younger mobile users would be involved in this, especially considering sexting and cyber-bullying trends. If anyone has ever seen an episode of Gossip Girl, as outlandish as it might be, you know this to be true to some extent.

Nevertheless, let's take a glance at some of the more popular and tempting scenarios that smartphone videographers would choose:

  • 23 percent: People in embarrassing outfits
  • 15 percent: Someone tripping/falling
  • 10 percent: A sexy waitress at a restaurant
  • 9 percent: A shirtless hunk mowing the neighbor’s lawn
  • 7 percent: Cheerleaders
  • 6 percent: Disgusting grooming habits
  • 5 percent: A couple kissing or making out

My personal favorite is that seven percent replied recording a "boss or coworker sneaking a second doughnut." Not the first donut, but the second. Sure, that must require video to exploit and bribe someone with later...

Although some of these situations and more are arguably invasions of privacy when recorded for personal use, it becomes a much more serious matter if/when the material goes public. Some of these stats reveal just how cruel we can be sometimes. At least 57 percent said they would find it fun or interesting if a co-worker shared the video on the company intranet or shared files server. (Obviously appropriate...)

Going even further, almost a third of respondents though that someone pulling a prank on a co-worker would be the most funny or interesting, followed by someone imitating the boss, someone napping on the job, or a company party ending in "inappropriate behavior."

Some of this reads like plot lines from The Office, which is funny (and sometimes uncomfortable) on television, but not all of that humor translates to real life. However, that doesn't negate the potential reality of these findings.

For another take on this survey: CNET News: Survey: 50% of Americans are cell phone video spies


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