Social networking software

Facebook's International Users Share Privacy Concerns

The majority of users of Facebook show active concern about their privacy, according to security firm F-Secure Malaysia.

"For instance, a new F-Secure survey shows that 73 per cent of Facebook users have not yet 'friended' their boss," said F-Secure Asia Pacific senior security response manager, Chia Wing Fei.

Speaking from the company's regional lab based in Kuala Lumpur, Chia said: "The survey also suggests that the most profound privacy concern for users is a fear that online activity could negatively affect employment."

"According to an international survey of Facebook users, 58 per cent reported that they use the site at least occasionally while at work," he said. "However, nearly three out of four users have not become friends with their boss via the site. And 77 per cent report that they use the privacy settings of the site actively," he said.

The survey was carried out by F-Secure via SurveyGizmo during January, February and March of 2010. About 450 participants were solicited from around the globe through Facebook, Twitter and social bookmarking sites such as Stumbleupon. F-Secure asked respondents a series of questions about how they used Facebook on a daily basis.

More privacy-savvy than some experts assume

"We're finding that Facebook users are more privacy-savvy than some experts assume," said Chia. "As Facebook moves to make more and more information public, its users seem to be increasingly aware that their privacy control is at stake."

"Effectively managing an online presence is crucial for jobseekers," he said. "Depending on the country, employers have been using Google to vet job candidates for years and screening of social networking profiles is now a standard practice for many recruiters and hiring managers."

Chia added that employees around the globe -- including military officials -- have also been reprimanded for publicly inappropriate or offensive postings made on the world's most popular social network.

"Thirty-five per cent of users surveyed said that they've posted something on Facebook that they later regretted," he said. "Facebook users have to be aware that anything they post on the site - whether privacy protected or not - could easily become public. A safe guideline is 'To look before you leap. If full disclosure, accidentally or otherwise, would be considered a disaster, don't upload it.'"

He said Facebook users also seem to be careful when it comes to backing up the photos they post on the site. "About 70 per cent said they have backups of at least some of the photos they've shared, compared to the 56 per cent of computer users that F-Secure found stored or backed up their digital photos in a 2009 survey."

"Facebook is a free service, but we 'pay' by viewing advertising and making our lives into content that can be searched, shared and monetized," said Chia. "Users are willing to make a bargain, but they are also demanding Facebook for more control over what they share and with whom."

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