Report: Privacy Worries Many Facebook, Google Users

Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    A considerable number of Facebook and Google users worry about privacy and malware when using the social networking site and search engine, according to a survey from Gallup Poll and USA Today.

    Almost 70 percent of Facebook users and 52 percent of Google users in the U.S. said they are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about privacy when using and Google’s search engine, USA Today reported on Wednesday. Getting infected with malware worries 65 percent of Facebook users and 54 percent of Google users, the survey found.

    However, these concerns don’t seem to be driving people away from either site.

    Facebook’s U.S. unique visitors reached 153.9 million in December, up 38 percent year-on-year, while time spent on the site and total page views grew 79 percent and 71 percent, according to comScore.

    Meanwhile, Google remains the dominant search provider in the U.S., fielding 66.6 percent of all queries in December, while Yahoo came in second with 16 percent and Microsoft’s Bing third with 12 percent, according to comScore.

    Still, if many of their users are worried specifically about privacy, Google and Facebook should support efforts to get the U.S. government to implement and enforce a “do not track” legislation and mechanism, Consumer Watchdog said in a statement in reaction to the survey.

    “A poll by Consumer Watchdog last summer found that 90% of Americans want legislation to protect their online privacy and 80% support a Do Not Track mechanism. Another 86% want a single-click button on their browsers that makes them anonymous when they search online,” reads the statement.

    The Gallup Poll/USA Today survey comes on the heels of recent instances in which Facebook’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has been harassed via the social networking site by an alleged stalker and by malicious hackers.

    In late January, hackers broke into his Facebook fan page and posted a message that read in part: “Let the hacking begin: If Facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way?”

    This week, Facebook confirmed that Zuckerberg obtained a restraining order against a man who had been contacting him via Facebook, as well as showing up at his house and office, making requests and displaying behavior that a court deemed threatening.

    Neither Google nor Facebook immediately responded to requests for comment.

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