Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been under fire in recent years not only for the amount of personal data it compiles about its one billion users, but it has also faced a lot of scrutiny (and even some lawsuits) over its policies for sharing that data with various third parties and marketers. And based on the results of a recent study, the sharing of personal data increased after Facebook changed its policies and default privacy settings.
The study, conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Ohio, is one of the most comprehensive studies about Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and its data-sharing practices in that it covered more than 5,000 Facebook users and it tracked the networking site’s data-sharing since 2005. In the study, researchers found a dramatic increase in the site’s sharing of personal information of users since the site changed its privacy policies in 2009 and 2010. Users of the site had greater control of their privacy from 2005 to 2009, but that all changed with Facebook changed policies to reset the default privacy settings. Since that time, the study revealed, user information that was publicly disclosed greatly increased starting in 2010.
Researcher Alessandro Acquisti said, “These findings highlight the tension between privacy choices as expressions of individual subjective preferences, and the role of the network environment in shaping those choices. While people try to take control of their personal information, the network keeps changing, affecting their decisions and changing their privacy outcomes.”
Co-author Fred Stutzman said, “These findings illustrate the challenges social network users face when trying to manage online privacy, the power of social media providers to affect their disclosure and privacy behavior, and the potential limits of notice and consent mechanisms in addressing consumers’ on-line privacy concerns.”
What do you think of this study? Is this is any way surprising to you? Do you think this will affect Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) user engagement when private information is shared so readily – sometimes without user knowledge or consent? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stock mentioned.
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