Millennials savvy about online reputation management
Privacy is not a dead letter for consumers on the Internet, even young adults. Rather than simply give up control over all personal data, many Web users have become educated about how much information is available about them online, and have taken steps to limit it.
According to a 2009 study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 30% of all Internet users ages 18 to 64 were worried about the amount of information available about them on the Web.
Fears were greatest among 30- to 49-year-olds and fell to just 23% of the population over 65.
Those percentages were down across the board since 2006, as were the proportion of Internet users who reported making an effort to limit how much could be found out about them online.
Millennials ages 18 to 29, however, were the most likely age group to take matters into their own hands, and showed the smallest drop in such behavior since 2006.
It makes sense for young adults to be the most vigilant about their personal information, since they are also the most active when it comes to photo sharing, status updates and other user-generated content on sites such as social networks.
Many have also learned their lesson the hard way: According to Retrevo, Internet users under 25 were twice as likely as older users to say they had posted something online they later regretted.
The Pew survey showed that for many social network users this did not necessarily translate to sharing less but to making use of the privacy settings that would allow only trusted friends to see certain items.
Older users were less likely to have changed default settings.
“Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at Pew, in a statement.
Across all age groups, Pew found about one-fifth of social network users thought they could trust the sites at least most of the time.
Trust was actually lowest among millennials, 28% of whom said they never trusted such sites, compared with 18% of over-50s.
When Insites Consulting asked users worldwide about trust in specific sites, 28% said they put “a lot of trust” in Facebook.
2 June 2010