Study: Facebook users sharing more personal info despite increased privacy concerns

Sarah Silbert
S. Silbert|03.08.13

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Study: Facebook users sharing more personal info despite increased privacy concerns

Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study following more than 5,000 Facebook users over six years, from 2005 and 2011, and found that changes in the social network's privacy policies caused users to share more -- not less -- personal data. Lest you think this means that users suddenly trusted the site more, Carnegie Mellon says that Facebookers became more and more protective of their personal details as the social network grew in membership -- and that the uptick in shared information is a result of increasingly granular privacy settings. If you recall, Facebook introduced new in-depth privacy controls in 2010, and the study found that the release of these new settings corresponded to users sharing more personal data, both within their network of friends and with strangers and third-party applications.

It's been quite some time since the new privacy policy was introduced, but the university says the sample group didn't reduce the amount of info shared with non-friends on the network, even as of 2011. The takeaway? Well, it's safe to say that more privacy controls doesn't equal more vigilance in protecting personal data, and it's certainly not a stretch to call Facebook's settings confusing. The researchers' comparison of the struggle for privacy to the eternal plight of Sisyphus? That might be a touch more dramatic.

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