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BizReport : Social Marketing : June 30, 2010

Online behavior leaves social media users at risk

Even though recent events, such as the Facebook privacy melee, have brought online privacy to the fore, many users continue to do little or nothing to protect themselves from identity theft, according to a recent study from the Ponemon Institute.

by Helen Leggatt

ponemon logo.jpgDespite over 80% of respondents to the Ponemon Institute's study expressing concern for their online security while participating in social media, more than half take no steps towards protecting themselves. Shockingly, the same laxness is apparent even in those who have already been victims of identity theft.

"The study results are extremely telling, especially about measures that users take, or fail to take, in order to protect their identity while using social networks," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

"I was surprised that those who had experienced identity theft in the past weren't taking stronger measures to protect their identity. No matter who you are, if you want to increase social networking safety, you must take the necessary steps to protect your information."

In fact, the study illustrates the lackadaisical approach many social media users have towards protecting their online identity. A massive 90% were under the impression that using social media sites posed no risk and 60% weren't even sure if the social media provider was able to protect their identity.

And if you thought that was lax, read on.

Unbelievably, a significant number (44%) would continue to use a social media website even if they knew that site was unable to adequately protect their privacy and security.

Perhaps this generosity of trust is triggered by a release of chemicals during social networking use? It's not as strange as it sounds. A neuro-economist, Paul Zak, believes that social networking triggers the release of oxytocin in our brains. This chemical produces emotions of generosity and trust.

Tags: consumer privacy, consumer trust, identity theft, online privacy, social media

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