Is There Such a Thing As Online Privacy?

Folks, do you think that online privacy really exists?

This is what we tried to find out when we surveyed 1,007 Americans. Rad Campaign, Lincoln Parks Strategy, and infographicI teamed up to uncover experiences and views about online privacy. We took the results and created an infographic to share with you.

This is the second portion of data from the poll to be released. Last month, we released an infographic showing that about half of Americans under 35 have been bullied, harassed, or threatened online, or know someone who has.

Here’s a snapshot of what the Online Privacy survey revealed:

  • 74 % of Americans are either very or somewhat concerned about having too much personal information about them online.
  • On average, those surveyed believe that 64% of Americans have too much personal information about themselves online.
  •  People under 35 have more trust in social media sites than any other age demographic.
  • 70% are certain or think it’s very likely that social networks collect personal data such as interests, political affiliation, purchase habits, and what content is clicked, and then sell that data to advertisers to target ads and/or content at them.

privacy laws

If Internet users are so concerned about their privacy, do they read the terms of service (TOS)?

  • 66% either just click the agree box without reading any of the TOS, or skim through the TOS then click agree.
  • Only 17% carefully read the TOS before agreeing.
  • More college grads (27%) than non-college grads (18%) just click agree without reading.

The way I see it, more people need to read the TOS before signing up for these sites so they understand what kinds of data they’re giving to these platforms.  Stronger privacy laws could be useful too.

Folks, are you concerned about your online privacy? And if so, what are you doing about it?

Check out the full infographic and data here.


9 thoughts on “Is There Such a Thing As Online Privacy?

  1. Privacy is non existing online. If you post your personal information or potential confidential information in social networks be sure that people will read them. Even emails have no privacy. The Problem is THE WORLD OF ADVANCED INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY where people are inventing every minute and by pass security systems.
    I’am just SORRY to say that BUT believe to be true


  2. Hi, Craig.
    Well, but….
    * Most of the information about people online is the information they put there.
    * What business is it of someone else to say I have too much information about me online? That’s rather like them telling me to shut up. I will politely ignore that desire.
    * When we have a poll saying that young people trust social media, it’s not social media they trust. It’s the people they know, their friends. Hasn’t that always been so?
    * Yes, our industries — technology, media, advertising — have done a *terrible* job of informing people what they are and are not collecting, why they are doing that, and what benefit it brings to users (e.g.., free content and services), which has just opened the door to mistrust and demonization of cookies from the likes of the Wall Street Journal. It is undoubtedly true that these companies must quickly come to grips with this mistrust by creating and living by best practices in transparency and access for users’ information.
    Privacy is not dead. It will always exist where it always has: in our brains, which is where we keep what is truly private.
    Sharing also has great benefit for society. We should be talking about that at the same time.


  3. Craig. Two things. 1) I’m already on Facebook. I enjoy using it. Many people I know and keep in touch with are there as well. I probably don’t want to think deeply about all the many things they are doing with my data, but I am aware they are doing things with my data. I still want to share memes, family photos, and make snide comments about my friends’ political meanderings. 2) Even if any online entity gave full disclosure in a clear and concise way, I’m either in the group covered by item 1, or I’m in the other group of those who would never believe the TOCs, no matter how they are written. Those are the people with whom I keep in touch with on What’s App (at least I did until Facebook acquired them).

    Short story long: online privacy is fictitious. People who care about this avoid or try to game the system with a combination of dummy data and allegedly secure online technologies.


  4. Privacy is an illusion so why even bother with crypto schemes. Long before we had party lines where everything you said could be heard on phone calls. no different then today. All phones can be listed to all emails can be read. Today more personal data is mined by private firms then the NSA could ever hope to gather. Transparency and Sousveillance is near embrace it.


  5. Except where required by law, I don’t use my real name online. I ask people not to publish my pictures, online. Privacy once lost, is too hard to regain, once digitized.
    People who know me, know how to find me. Since my online name looks real, and I don’t do anything fraudulent, there’s no California law enforcing me from choosing this route. You’re Craig Newmark, that’s important to people, but regular people, shouldn’t use their real names online.


  6. It has long been recognized that “terms of service” and other contracts of adhesion involve an immense power imbalance. The author of the contract is in an entirely different negotiating position than the mere user. Many of the enormous benefits of modern technology can easily be denied to anyone who doesn’t basically accept whatever terms they are offered by those who exercise virtual monopolies. Asking people to solve this problem unilaterally by reading the terms of service and refraining from using services that have any provisions they don’t like or agree with is not particularly reasonable or realistic. There’s lots of scope for appropriate regulation here.


  7. As soon as you accept the notion that they already know everything the easier it is as you stop trying to hide it. The fear that should exist is when facebook, google, twitter has the ability to manipulate data, likes, moods through postings etc. With the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and the ease of which he was comfortable with Facebook’s secret psychology experiment on users’ emotions or OkCupid brags about manipulating online daters in secret tests and then laughing it off as a prank to see how people would react. This shit is scary and we agree to it when we click that we’ve read and agree to the terms and conditions that are updated every 2 weeks or so. Remember when an update meant that software was improved to give the end user a better experience? Elections both local and national, major political issues, extreme agendas, At best the manipulation is to garner support to advance their (google, facebook et. al.) business models and profits agendas. At worse, the manipulation is focused to ensure elections of business friendly candidates. Imagine if the Koch brothers ran facebook? Well Zukerberg is still young. If his future in indicative of his past, you can bet he will push the envelope. Gone are the days of google’s “don’t be evil”. Who needs your personal info when they can have your mind.


  8. The reason why there’s no online privacy is because privacy laws were written, and policed, by a government who doesn’t care about your privacy….


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