Facebook is the undisputed big daddy of social networks, and users are more careful about managing their privacy than ever before.
Those were the key takeaways in a survey released Friday by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, which found two thirds of adults in the U.S. who use the Internet maintain a social media profile of some kind, up from only 20 per cent of adults in 2006.
Of all those with a social media profile, 93 per cent of them have a Facebook account. Of those with multiple accounts, 79 per cent check Facebook the most often, with Twitter a distant second with 5 per cent.
Privacy also emerges as a growing concern for users of social media, though Pew lays out the difficulty in even measuring attitudes on privacy in somewhat exhausted tones: “’Privacy’ has become a powerful keyword, a shorthand tag that gets used to reference a constellation of public attitudes, technical affordances and legal arguments. Yet, the concept is so laden with multiple meanings that any use of the term begs for added specificity and context.”
Still, of those with profiles, 67 per cent of women used privacy settings to restrict access to their information so only friends can see it, while only 48 per cent of men do the same.
There is very little variance on privacy preferences by age (basically within the margin of error), if anything people under the age of 40 are slightly more private with their settings.
Once you’re inside the “friend” ringfence, a less guarded reality emerges: 72 per cent of users let all their friends have the same access to their profile. Only 26 per cent limit what their friends can see.
Perhaps not surprisingly, 48 per cent of social media users reported some level of difficulty in managing privacy settings.
There were surges in so-called pruning activities such as un-tagging photos, deleting comments and un-friending people. Some 63 per cent of social media users claim to have unfriended someone, in 2009 the share was only 56 per cent.
Women are more likely than men to remove people from their contacts (67 per cent to 58 per cent) and younger people are the most bloodthirsty about deleting former “friends” (71 per cent of those aged 18-29 report having done so).
The younger cohort of users also report a significantly higher incidence of removing comments by other users (56 per cent have done so, compared to 40 per cent of those aged 30-49) and half of them report cases of untagging or removing their name from a posted photo (49 per cent compared to 34 per cent for the next age cohort, which drops to 16 per cent for those aged 65+)
It is noteworthy that Twitter accounts are held by just 11 per cent of social media users, though that is up from 6 per cent in 2009. The number of people reporting multiple accounts is up to 55 per cent, from 45 per cent in 2009. LinkedIn seems to have shrunk somewhat, its share of reported users dropped to 11 per cent from 14 per cent in 2009. It’s almost not worth mentioning that the number of MySpace users have shrunk from 48 per cent to 23 per cent.
The survey also found 31 per cent of users claim to have visited the social sites several times a day, up from just 22 per cent in 2009. For those who visit just once a day or less, their share of social activity hasn’t moved very much at all.