23.5 million online Americans age 18-34 don’t use a social network. 6.8 million cite privacy concerns. Reported in MetaFacts TUP survey

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”.

Agreement is even stronger among older adults.Chart: Privacy concern by age group

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.”


MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition – report available by contacting MetaFacts. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically or as hard copy. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.

To see other research coverage of communication products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, chat, and webcams – see the other communication-oriented questions TUP covers on www.technologyuser.com.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing research on the market shifts and profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Windows Vista, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Moms and Dads, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology industry trends and facts. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at https://metafacts.com/contact-metafacts/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts or call 1-760-635-4300.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Poll, Technology User Overview Report, TUP 2010, TUPdate

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