Study: People Finally in Control of Their Web Privacy

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It may have only taken a few years and a few bad headlines, but many social networking users are now taking steps to protect their privacy online.

The vast majority of consumers now review the privacy settings on their social networks, according to a new report from Webroot, an Internet security company, with 92% of users surveyed this year saying they have viewed or changed their settings at one point or another. By comparison, just 63% said they had done so in a survey the company conducted in 2009.

Between the time the two surveys were conducted, privacy has become a major issue for social networks, general websites (increasingly victims of hacker attacks) and smartphones. Facebook, perhaps more than any other website, has been criticized for making too much of its users’ personal information available to the public and allegedly even leaking some of that information to advertisers.

These events have clearly raised concerns for many consumers. According to Webroot’s most recent survey, which is based on interviews with nearly 4,000 Internet users in the U.S. and abroad, the most common steps that users now take to protect their privacy include restricting who can see their social networking profiles and limiting the information that can be found publicly by searching for their name, as well as blocking web beacons that sites use to collect and track their personal information.

Despite all the privacy complaints that have been directed at social networks – and at Facebook specifically - Webroot found that most users take responsibility for securing their privacy, or lack thereof. When asked who is responsible for keeping their personal information safe on Facebook, nearly three quarters of those surveyed said the user is, while just 13% said Mark Zuckerberg should be.

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