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BizReport : Social Marketing : October 11, 2010

Parents rate socnet's privacy levels "negative"

Parents aren't happy with the job that social networks are doing to protect their children online, according to a new poll from Common Sense Media.

by Helen Leggatt

common sense media logo.gifThe non-profit outfit commissioned a poll of 2,100 adults and 400 teens and discovered a lack of confidence in the ability of social networks and search engines to keep their information, and that of their children, private.

In fact, three quarters of parents polled rate the job social networks are doing to protect their children's online data private as "negative".

The vast majority of parents (88%) and teens (85%) say they would support a law that required online search engines and social networking services to get users to 'opt-in' before their personal information could be used.

Geo-location services, in particular, were unpopular among parents. Ninety-one percent said search engines and social networking sites should not be able to share the physical location of children with other companies unless a parent gives permission.

Even teens, often known for their online recklessness, weren't comfortable with the level of personal privacy online or were unsure if their data was being shared, found the poll. Nearly 80% of teens thought their friends shared too much online.

"Parents want far more education and leadership about online privacy, and they clearly want the industry and the federal government to update privacy plicies," said James Steyer, Common Sense Media chief executive and founder.

"There are some common sense solutions to these problems, such as 'opt-in' policies that require companies to let parents know how information will be used before it's collected and requiring companies to use short and simple privacy policies instead of confusing and dense policies that take hours to read."

Earlier this year, a survey from the Ponemon Institute found 80% of respondents to a poll expressed concern about their online privacy, yet over half took no steps towards protecting themselves. The same laxness was even shared by those who had already been a victim of identity theft.

Even more astonishing was that 44% would continue to use a social media website even if they knew that site was unable to adequately protect their privacy and security.

Tags: online privacy, search, social network

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