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Profile-pruning and unfriending on the rise in social networks

Consumer Reports News: February 24, 2012 03:18 PM

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People want to control how and what they share on social network sites, and the number of users pruning information from our profiles has increased, a new study by the Pew Research Center shows.

Some two-thirds of U.S. adults have a social networking profile, and 58 percent of them say only friends can view their profile.

According to the survey, conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 63 percent of respondents reported deleting individuals from their "friends" lists, up from 56 percent in 2009. 44 percent said they deleted comments by others from their profile, and 37 percent removed their name from photos they were tagged in.

Consumer Reports privacy expert Jeff Fox said:

This shows that consumers aren't just passive users of social networks, but care very much about who they share their personal lives with.


An interesting finding was that women (67 percent) delete people from their networks more often than men (58 percent). In addition, younger users tend to "unfriend" individuals the most.

When it comes to our online lives, however, privacy issues go well beyond what we control via our personal social-network settings. Advertisers, search engines, mobile apps, and others are perpetually collecting information from our online travels. To address this, the White House yesterday announced a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights which in part hinges on 400 advertisers complying with Do Not Track privacy tools.

For tips on how you can best protect your privacy while surfing online see Consumer Reports' guide to online security.

Privacy Management on Social Media Sites [Pew Research Center]

Maggie Shader

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