Most Are Skeptical of Online Privacy

September 16, 2013

More than one-fifth of adults—or 21 percent—say they’ve had an e-mail or social media account hijacked, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. What’s more, 11 percent say they’ve had important information stolen, such as a social security number, bank account number, or credit card. 

Most adults—nearly 60 percent—don’t believe it’s possible to be completely anonymous online, according to the survey of more than 1,000 adults. As such, many people say they take at least some steps to protect their privacy online. In fact, 86 percent of Internet users say they’ve taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprint, via actions such as clearing cookies, encrypting e-mail, or using virtual networks to mask their internet protocol (IP) address. 

Fifty-five percent of the adults admit they’ve also taken steps to “avoid observation” by specific people, organizations, or the government, according to the survey.  

What you do online can also affect your reputation, as some of the adults surveyed learned. Six percent of adults say they’ve had their reputation damaged because of something that happened online. One percent say they have lost a job or educational opportunity because of something they posted online or from something that someone posted about them. 

Source: “Most Online Adults Know They're Not Anonymous But Take Steps To Protect Privacy,” Forbes (Sept. 13, 2013)

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