Social Media Security: Strict Privacy Settings Are the Norm, Regardless of Age


Strict privacy settings are now the norm for social media users, regardless of age.

That’s just one of the results from an online sample of 1,021 Internet “experts” in a recent Pew Internet Project. The survey also showed that attention to privacy issues has increased while profile “pruning” and unfriending people is also on the rise.

Among the 63% of adults who maintain a social networking profile, survey results show that:

  • 58% have the profile set to private so that only friends can see it.
  • 19% set their profiles to partially private so that friends of friends or networks can view them.
  • 20% say their main profile is completely public.

Among social network users who prune and manage their accounts, survey results show that:

  • 63% have deleted people from their friends lists, up from 56% in 2009.
  • 44% have deleted comments made by others on their profile
  • 37% have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them.

Survey Says!

Want to take the survey yourself?

Here are just some of the 14 questions from the Pew Internet Project on social media privacy settings:

  • Thinking now just about the social networking site profile you use most often, on which site is that profile located?
  • Thinking just about the social networking site profile you use most often…is your profile set to public so that everyone can see it…is it partially private, so that friends of friends or your networks can see it…or is it private, so that only your friends can see?
  • On this private profile you use most often, do you limit what certain friends can and cannot see, or can all your friends see the same thing?
  • Overall, how difficult is it to manage the privacy controls on your profile? Is it very difficult, somewhat difficult, not too difficult, or not difficult at all?
  • Do you ever set up your account so that it automatically includes your location on your posts?

For that last question, privacy advocates will be pleased to know the actual survey results overwhelmingly favored privacy: 84% said no, 14% said yes, and 2% did not know whether their posts automatically include their locations.


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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi's manager of digital content strategy.