Is privacy a big concern among younger non-social networkers?
A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, MetaFacts Principal Analyst
Privacy concerns are a strong deterrent to future Facebook growth, even among the age 18-34 segment.
The younger adult segment has a high penetration rate, with 63% regularly using a social networking site. While the maximum likely penetration rate is the subject of other MetaFacts saturation rate research, continued penetration only becomes more and more difficult from such a high base.
Of the 23.5 million Americans age 18-34 not networked, 29% agree or strongly agree with the statement: “I do not use a community/social networking group because I am concerned about my privacy”.
Recent news about the compromised security of private information is likely to further increase pervasive privacy concerns. When even highly-guarded information of governments and corporations is released publicly through organizations such as WikiLeaks, consumer trust can be further shaken in the effectiveness of the privacy controls of social networks.
At the same time, the FTC’s Do-Not-Track proposal offers a governmental approach to supporting and rebuilding consumer trust online. Although considered heavy-handed by many advertisers, it reflects a percolating problem already evident by the use of adblockers, spam controls, and very low click rates.
With nearly 30 years of watching and surveying technology consumers, answers to an attitudinal agreement scale questions don’t tell the whole story. Many American consumers are fickle and have short memories. Still, the answers are very high among an otherwise technically-active and accepting segment. Fear of the unknown can outweigh the desire for connection, entertainment and other benefits enjoyed by current social networkers.
Social networking sites Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and others already have plenty of challenges retaining the interest and patronage of their current members. With privacy and other concerns being expressed so strongly even among generally open younger Americans, MetaFacts expects the dampening effect to continue for years. Both those already networked and those not yet connected are thinking twice about their choice of “friends.”
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