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22% of youngsters fake online personal details
People are not always who they appear to be and nowhere is that truer than among savvy youngsters on social media, according to a new survey from consumer research specialists Intersperience.
A new report in the UK, entitled "The Future of Identity", reveals how today's hyper-connected populations and their online behavior will shape society over the next decade.
The study was commissioned as part of the UK Government Office for Science's 'Foresight' program that investigates scientific and technological trends.
It asserts that the traditional notion of 'identity' is changing. Details that were once deemed important markers of individuality, such as a person's age, religion, nationality or occupation, are no longer so. Instead, today's identities are forged online through interaction on social networks, social media and online role-playing games.
Meanwhile, traditional identity markers continue to be used by brands and marketers to target ads and content to potential customers. However, savvy youngsters are putting a major spanner in the works. Not only is their personal information kept as private as possible, to throw people off the scent they lie about who they are on sites such as Facebook, a new survey has found.
When consumer research specialists Intersperience surveyed 1,000 8*-18 year olds about how they protect their online privacy, 22% said they don't give out their personal details online - they use fake information.
A common statement among survey respondents was "I would rather be anonymous to people I don't know".
"And herein lies the conundrum," says Intersperience's CEO Paul Hudson.
"What use are half-truths to companies who tap into the wealth of personal information on social networking sites to track behavior and target products at users in real time? With Facebook and Google seeking commercial gain from access to user information a solution is needed."
What use, indeed?
Businesses need to act fast to address the reasons behind why today's connected youngsters feel compelled to create fake identities online. More must be done to address the genuine concerns they have about online tracking and targeting. Businesses must "embrace transparency and involve the consumer honestly in how their data is used", says Hudson.
* According to Intersperience, despite its sign-up age being 13 years old, three out of ten 8-9 year olds are on Facebook, rising to nine out of ten 16-17 year olds.
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