There have been many demographic studies conducted on those most likely to use social media. For instance, a 2011 Nielsen Report found that women between 18–34 who are of Asian or Pacific Islander decent, living in New England with a bachelor’s or graduate college degree, making less than $50K/year, are most likely to use social networks. However, this report, like others, didn’t specifically analyze a crucial aspect of social network use – privacy.
A recent infographic from ZoneAlarm, based on a 2012 study by Pew of 2011 data, depicts how privacy settings on social networks differ between demographics. It found that women are far more likely to keep up their privacy settings and refrain from making their profiles completely public on sites like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, 67 percent of women choose to keep their social networks only accessible to friends.
While this may be surprising to some, especially given women’s reputation of being more forthcoming than men, I believe it’s more a matter of women’s propensity to keep their social networks functioning among people they know and blocking their profiles from strangers. It’s been proven that women are more likely to disclose more details to friends, family members and spouses than men do, but there is a distinct difference between sharing and making your life public – something we all must consider as social networks become increasingly pervasive in our everyday lives.
Some of the other interesting findings from ZoneAlarm are summarized below:
- 11 percent of social network users have posted content they regret
- 15 percent of men and 8 percent of women admit to posting content they regret
- 49 percent of social network users do not find it difficult to update their privacy settings
- 37 percent of social network users have untagged photos, compared with 30 percent in 2009
- 44 percent of social network users have deleted comments, compared with 36 percent in 2009
- 63 percent of social network users have unfriended a follower, compared with 56 percent in 2009
- 67 percent of women and 48 percent of men keep their social profiles private, only accessible to friends
- 16 percent of women and 23 percent of men keep their social profiles semi-private, allowing people to request following
- 14 percent of women and 26 percent of men keep their social profiles public
How do you protect your privacy on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+? Do you think your gender has anything to do with how high you keep your privacy settings?