Pew just released a new report that looks at privacy management on social media sites. A copy of the full report is available at: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Privacy-management-on-social-media.aspx
Summary of findings
Social network users are becoming more active in pruning and managing their accounts. Women and younger users tend to unfriend more than others.
“About two-thirds of internet users use social networking sites (SNS) and all the major metrics for profile management are up, compared to 2009: 63% of them have deleted people from their “friends” lists, up from 56% in 2009; 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile; and 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.
More privacy and reputation management on social networking sites
% of social networking site users who have taken these steps on their profile
Source: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, April 26 – May 22, 2011 Spring Tracking Survey; n=2,277 adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Margin of error is +/-3 percentage points for SNS users (n=1,015)
Some 67% of women who maintain a profile say they have deleted people from their network, compared with 58% of men. Likewise, young adults are more active unfrienders when compared with older users.
A majority of social network site users – 58% – restrict access to their profiles and women are significantly more likely to choose private settings.
More than half of social networking site users (58%) say their main profile is set to private so that only friends can see it; 19% set their profile to partially private so that friends of friends can view it; and 20% say their main profile is set to be completely public. Women who use SNS are more likely than men to set the highest restrictions (67% vs. 48%).
Half of SNS users say they have some difficulty in managing privacy controls, but just 2% say it is “very difficult” to use the controls. Those with the most education report the most trouble.
In all, 48% of social media users report some level of difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profile, while 49% say that it is “not difficult at all.” Very few users (2%) describe their experiences as “very difficult,” while 16% say they are “somewhat difficult” and another 30% say the controls are “not too difficult” to manage.
Social media users who are college graduates are significantly more likely than those with lower levels of education to say that they experience some difficulty in managing the privacy controls on their profiles.
11% of SNS users have posted content they regret.
Male profile owners are almost twice as likely as female profile owners to profess regret for posting content (15% vs. 8%). Young adults are also more prone to say they regret some of their social media postings; 15% of profile owners ages 18-29 say they have posted content they later regret, compared with just 5% of profile owners ages 50 and older.”