Even though Facebook (News - Alert) and Google reign as the world’s most popular social networking and search engine, most of its users are concerned with their privacy while using their services, according to a USA Today/Gallup Poll released Tuesday.
The poll showed 70 percent of Facebook users and 52 percent of Google (News - Alert) users in the U.S. are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about privacy when using the sites. The specific concerns lie with malware infections, where 65 percent of respondents expressed their worries while on Facebook, and 54 percent while using Google.
USA Today reported that most consumers have a limited understanding of the extent of risk they are subjected to while browsing the Web. Byron Acohido reported the increasing amount of data inundated into online accounts for banks, social networks, retailers and tech companies has made a “candy store” for criminals to spread infections via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and Google search results, in order to get their hands on the information.
He added that the risk continues to rise with increased use of mobile devices—smartphones, tablet PCs and e –readers.
Despite the risks, and the now obvious concern for breaches of privacy while using Facebook and Google, the concerns have not squashed the popularity of the two sites.
According to comScore, Facebook had 153.9 million unique U.S. visitors in December—a 38 percent year-on-year increase, while time spent on the site grew to 79 percent and total page views increased 71 percent.
Google remains the top search engine—holding 66.6 percent of all queries in December, with Yahoo trailing at 16 percent and Microsoft’s Bing behind at 12 percent; these figures are also from comScore (News - Alert).
Consumer Watchdog conducted a similar poll, particularly relevant to the controversy over Google’s Street View cars gathering communications from home WiFi (News - Alert) networks, finding overall that Americans favored a broad range of online privacy protection.
In reaction to the Gallup poll, the organization pulling for the U.S. government to implement and enforce “do not track” legislation said, "A poll by Consumer Watchdog last summer found that 90% of Americans want legislation to protect their online privacy and 80% support a Do Not Track mechanism. Another 86% want a single-click button on their browsers that makes them anonymous when they search online."
The statement also added that the Gallup poll was released just as Rep. Jackie Speier, D-CA (News - Alert), was preparing Do Not Track legislation, expected to be introduced later this week. The bill would give the Federal Trade Commission power to implement and enforce Do Not Track regulation.
Janice McDuffee has worked in marketing, editing and freelance writing for companies including SheKnows and HBM Inc. after receiving her master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Janice McDuffee