Top Tech News HOME LATEST NEWS NEWSLETTERS SEARCH Search
  LATEST NEWS FOR MONDAY APRIL 24

Close Search Box
Top Tech News
WORLD WIDE WEB
Americans Googling Themselves More
Posted December 17, 2007
Americans Googling Themselves More
YOU ARE HERE:   HOME arrow WORLD WIDE WEB arrow THIS STORY
NEWS OPS

By Frederick Lane. Updated December 17, 2007 10:05AM

SHARE

ALSO SEE

A report released Sunday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that growing numbers of Americans are searching for information about themselves and others on the Internet.

According to "Digital Footprints," nearly 50 percent of Americans have searched for themselves online, more than double the number who reported doing so in 2002. Even more people -- 53 percent of those surveyed -- said that they searched for information about acquaintances or business contacts.

In general, the Pew report found that younger users are more comfortable searching for information about themselves and others than older Internet users. Pew researchers found little difference in the frequency with which men and women searched for themselves online, but concluded that as education and income rise, so does the tendency of people to monitor their online profiles.

Age Affects Privacy Attitudes

Not surprisingly, the Pew report found that a much higher percentage of teens (55 percent) than adults (20 percent) have created profiles of themselves on one of the social-networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook. But teens, the report also found, are much more likely to post information on their profile pages (particularly photos and videos) that adults would consider private.

"This gap between young people not caring about privacy, and older people caring more about privacy has existed over a long period of time," said Ari Schwartz, the deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. "Younger people that just don't have experiences of older people of information coming back to haunt them. And now technology gives them the opportunity to be more careless than they were in the past."

Somewhat surprisingly, teens were more cautious about who can view their social-networking information. Nearly 60 percent of teens restrict access to their Web 2.0 profiles to "friends."

The opposite is true for adults: some 60 percent make their social-networking profiles open to everyone. Schwartz suggested that the greater openness on the part of adults might be due in part to the fact that kids have a better grasp on how to use social-networking privacy tools.

'Unfazed and Inactive'

The Pew report classifies nearly half of its survey respondents as "unfazed and inactive" -- people who do not take any steps to limit or control the information about themselves that appears online, and do not worry about what is available.

The Pew researchers defined three other groups of roughly equal size: the "confident creatives" (17 percent), who actively upload information and are not terribly worried about who sees it, but still take steps to limit who has access; "concerned and careful" (21 percent), people who are actively worried about what information is available and try to protect or limit their personal information; and "worried by the wayside" (18 percent), people who are worried about the amount of information available online, but don't take any steps to try to control their personal information.

Schwartz said that it will take some time before researchers can determine how the privacy experiences of the new online generation will affect public policy. "We haven't had enough time to really measure whether all of these people who are online so much have a stronger sense of privacy," he said. "That's going to be the interesting question over time."

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

MORE IN WORLD WIDE WEB

Next Article >

INSIDE TOP TECH NEWS NETWORK SITES SERVICES BENEFITS