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This article was published on June 29, 2010

Study: Half of social media users fear “revelation of secrets”

Study: Half of social media users fear “revelation of secrets”

In a new study by a  privacy research firm, half of respondents said that they fear “revelation of secrets” as a consequence of using non-secure social media sites.

The study results were not clear on what kind of “secrets” these people are worried about, but obviously you can only be worried about “revelation of secrets” if you, well, have secrets. Of course, everyone has a right to their privacy and certainly not all secrets are dark or frankly anyone else’s business. For example, one possibility could be revelation of business/competitive secrets, which since this is a security study, could be the case, and is certainly a concern in the corporate world regarding social media.

The top response (60% of respondents) was a fear of seeing more online ads, also 21% said they feared that someone would use their identity to pose as them on social media (aka Fake Steve Jobs) and 18% were worried about “cyber-bullying”, whatever that is.

So what can we take from this? Well, first of all, obviously people are afraid of the consequences of using non-secure social media sites (note: eMarketer, which published the findings did not spell out what “non-secure” exactly means, no https perhaps?) This is pretty apparent from the chart below as there isn’t a response that says “I don’t see any bad consequences” or similar. Also, some fears seem relatively unjustified: unless you are Steve Jobs or similarly famous, would anybody really go to the trouble to fake you on social media? Seems pretty unlikely.

Lastly, it’s certainly worth pointing out that probably the most serious real-world offences of stealing your money and stalking are the two least worrisome concerns of the respondents in this study.

(Note: The sample size of this study was also not given by eMarketer).