Report: Americans Confused about Sharing Private Data, Blame Social Media Sites

Do you post your every move, update and digits on Facebook but worry about what could happen if you reveal too much? Then count yourself among the majority of Americans, according to a new survey by Lawyers.com.


Half of Americans who use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare admit to seeing people disclose too much personal information online, and 44 percent are concerned that the personal information they share on these sites is being used against them.

Yet 28 percent of social media users admit to rarely considering what could occur if they share too much private data online, and 43 percent said they typically agree to sites’ privacy terms and conditions without reading them, the report said.

The data provided by the legal site as part of its “2010 Social Networking Survey” points to the love-hate relationship Americans have with online privacy as they navigate the boundaries of social media and what it means to social network, ‘friending,’ ‘poking,’ and ‘geo-locating’ as they go.

And who’s taking the heat in this unchartered territory? Clearly, its social media sites. 76 percent of Americans place the blame squarely on the sites themselves for “inadequately protecting users’ personal information.”

The study was released almost a week after the headline-grabbing news that 10 of the most popular Facebook apps shared users’ private information with advertisers and online tracking firms, and the same day Americans woke to find out their neighbors, family and friends could easily hack their social network accounts through a Firefox add-on.

Despite the drumbeat of online privacy breaches in the news, 69 percent of social media users admitted to posting their first and last names, 67 percent have posted their photograph, and 51 percent have included an email address. Going further, 16 percent have shared travel plans, 7 percent have posted their cell phone number, and 4 percent have revealed their home address, the study found.

And despite the above statistics showing otherwise, 46 percent of social media users say its an ongoing struggle to decide what and how much personal information to share.

How do you decide what’s okay to put online?

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