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Why Social Media Network Users Do Not Check Their Privacy Settings

Updated on October 15, 2012

Social Media Networks

There are several social media networks, and the users are growing daily worldwide. For each online network, there are privacy settings within the individual user's account. While many people check their privacy settings, others do not. Risks of not adjusting privacy levels include identity theft and access to personal data without consent. With huge risk potential, why do some users not check their social media privacy settings?

The Settings Page

Users may not understand online settings pages.
Users may not understand online settings pages. | Source

Users Do Not Understand Privacy Settings

Users of social media networks have a few similarities. They use the networks to communicate with established personal and business connections, as well as to seek out new connections. A variety of social media networks are available to them; a few of the largest ones are:

  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

People may not always learn the applications entirely upon first usage, or even by the fifth or sixth time at the log-in screen. The reason for joining is to communicate and that is as easy as logging in and hitting the follow button. Privacy settings are found in related pages of the platforms, often within the personal account details. In their hurry to use the networks, users may not stop to investigate this particular page.

According to eMarketer, the majority of Facebook users do not understand the Privacy Settings page. eMarketer cites a staggering statistic, released by Posterous in the 2011 "State of Online Privacy Sharing Report":

"Less than a third (32%) of Facebook users felt they had a complete understanding of Facebook's privacy settings."

This is a shocking percentage, given that the total number of Facebook users tops 500 million! There is a significant number of people who do not fully understand their privacy settings. The lack of understanding would certain explain why people on social media networks are not checking these controls.


On Facebook, adjusting privacy settings is related to degree of usage.
On Facebook, adjusting privacy settings is related to degree of usage. | Source

Degree Of Usage On Social Media Networks

A recent poll found that Facebook users who do not check their privacy settings use the networks more often than people who are more inactive. Degree of usage on social media networks is related to checking the controls.

The poll results were released by USA Today and Gallup Poll in October 2011. eMarketer explains the results:

"39% of US Facebook users who used the social networking site less than once a week were very concerned about their privacy, compared to only 26% of users who logged in daily."

Polled frequent users were less concerned about their privacy settings than people who logged in on a less frequent basis. Perhaps people who frequent Facebook feel familiar with the website; they do not think about the controls as much because of the high level of comfort.

Degree of usage on social media networks is a factor in checking the settings.

So Many Networks, So Little Time

Users may not have time to complete their profiles on all networks joined.
Users may not have time to complete their profiles on all networks joined. | Source

Number Of Network Accounts

Another reason why certain social media users do not check their privacy settings is because of the sheer amount of network accounts that they have created.

Many people complain of the number of networks to which they belong. Given the limited amount of time within a day, combined with work and social commitments, there is likely not time to log on to each website daily. As well, doing so would decrease productivity as it takes away from work and other necessary tasks.

When a personal account is created on a social media platform and then not accessed for several days, people are likely not aware if there are changes to privacy policies. If their accounts were hacked, they might not know until they sign in three days later.

Other times, people create social media accounts and then lose interest in the application. Perhaps it does not suit their needs and they want to focus their attention elsewhere. They may forget to close down the account or keep it in case of future use. In the meantime, privacy settings could be changed by a company or may never have been set by the user.

Having a large number of social media accounts is another reason why people do not check their privacy settings.

Online Privacy

Users need to protect their personal details.
Users need to protect their personal details. | Source

In Conclusion: Privacy Settings And Social Media

There are several reasons why some social media users do not check their privacy settings. Frequent users of certain networks may feel high levels of comfort and therefore not regularly check the controls. Other people may not understand the network details or not use the website on a consistent basis. Privacy settings are important to check so that personal data does not get handled without the user's consent.

How Often Do You Check Your Privacy Settings?

How Often Do You Check Your Privacy Settings On Social Media Networks?

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    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Rajan, I am glad you see the usefulness here and that the privacy issue needs to be addressed. Thank-you for your thoughtful remarks.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      I entirely agree with your assumptions as to why most of us do not fine tune the privacy setting. It is definitely of utmost importance given the identity thefts that are taking place increasingly.

      Thanks for reminding, Christy.

      Voted up and all the way across.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @alocsin, sometimes there are just so many screens to check! Thanks for stopping by and for the vote as well. Take care my computer savvy friend!

      @Mekenzie, I appreciate your comments and thoughtfulness in responding here :)

      @Lord, Yes there are an abundance of websites with passwords and user names. Nice to see you here and keep track of those privacy settings too!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned lack of understanding as the top reason. I'm fairly computer savvy but even I find it a pain to try and locate these settings because they seem to be well-hidden. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 6 years ago from Michigan

      Christy, thanks for answering my question. Identity theft potential is a very good reason to change settings.

      Thank YOU!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      Great topic, and the comments are giving you the reason. Too namy websites and passwords, so little time to check on them!

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @Jackie, yes your privacy settings are important to keep current. Thanks for stopping by to read.

      @Mekenzie, You're welcome and I thank you both for the comment and new follow :) As for LinkedIn, you can change your settings from a public search of the site so that not everyone on Google can see your work history. There is identity theft potential there. Blessings to you as well.

      @Hamlet, Thank-you as well for stopping by to read.

      @Marc, While page views are important they should not have to come with the risk of privacy invasion and mis-use. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub buddy, thanks for your comment!

      @teaches, good to hear. Better safe than sorry. Thanks for the vote, comment and continued encouragement :)

      @Rebecca, so glad you find this hub to be useful! Take care.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thanks I have never even given it a thought I will check too. Thanks!

    • Mekenzie profile image

      Susan Ream 6 years ago from Michigan

      Great Hub, I'm going to check out my sites as well. My FB is up to date, I'll need to visit Twitter and see if I have my security is set where I want it.

      Linked In is a site where you want to connect with others for business purposes. Why would you limit your audience there?

      Thanks for the heads up ...



    • Hamlet FE profile image

      Hamlet FE 6 years ago

      Thanks. Nice Post.

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 6 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      There's one big reason many writers don't bother with their privacy settings, and that's because they don't want to miss any page views.

      Great hub, Christy, very informative and helpful!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      After reading this, I am going to check on my privacy settings once again. Thanks for sharing this valuable information. Voted useful and interesting.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks very much for the awareness of this. I am a tech tard and I needed all the help I can get!