Privacy issues on Social Media websites have become a major hot topic in politics, media, and, most importantly, with users. Social networking users are, with good reason, becoming much savvier with respect to protecting the information they share online. According to a recent survey performed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly two-thirds of internet users participate in social networking sites, and they are becoming more active in managing personal privacy settings. 58% of survey respondents restrict access to their profiles in some way, with numbers continuing to trend upward.
With increasing professional and social ramifications for the information available on social networks, people have become much more aware of their online privacy options. The survey showed that record numbers of users are removing photos, comments, and tags on their profiles in order to prevent others from viewing personal decisions and lifestyle choices. Furthermore, U.S. policymakers are calling for stronger privacy protections and the European Union is proposing a personal data protection framework that would enshrine a “right to be forgotten” concept.
In spite of their desire for greater control over personal information, however, it would appear from the survey results that social media site operators have not kept pace by making their policies clear and settings easy to locate and manipulate. In total, 48% of respondents to the Pew study stated that they have had difficulty finding and configuring privacy settings on social networking sites. Moreover, many respondents reported that privacy policies are confusing and hard to find.
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