Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Attitudes Towards Social Media Non-Users And Some Interesting Privacy Watchdog Sites

I have a team of students (very bright students, of course) who have been taking a hard look at social media and the risks of both being involved and the risks of not being involved.

They have come across lots of data (Key Finding:  It is highly likely that social media people LOVE to talk about social media (High confidence)), but we have not been able to find out one thing:  Do people who use social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter) think that people who don't use them are weird? I don't necessarily mean weird in a pejorative way (though I am certainly interested in that interpretation).  It could be just sort of a reaction, like when someone says, "Oh, I don't have a Facebook account" and someone else would automatically think, "That's weird."

So, before I talk more about it more, answer the Swayable below:

Here's what I think we'll see:  A small but significant percentage of those that answer the question will say, "Yeah, it's weird."  If I could gather details, I would guess that there would be a fairly strong correlation between those that think it is weird and age (with younger people thinking it is weirder, obviously).

What is really weird, though is that we can't seem to find anyone who has asked this question before.

Changing the subject a little (but not much), I also wanted to highlight two sites, one old and one new, that provide an interesting insight into the subject of privacy in the age of social media.

The first is the wonderful What They Know courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.  This site lets you explore the privacy settings of some of the most popular apps for IOS and Android phones.  You can see a screen shot of part of the site at the right but you owe it to yourself to visit the interactive and a bit disquieting site.

The other site, Privacyscore (See screenshot below), is new but seems like it would be particularly valuable to anyone who searches the web (i.e. everyone).  The site can tell you, based on its own rating system, on a scale 1-100 (where 1 is very bad and 100 is very good), how private your activities on that site really are.  So, for example, Google.com scores an 85 whereas Bing scores only a 74.   Of particular interest to heavy web users or researchers are the Firefox and Chrome add-ons that will display a site's privacy score in real time as you search.