You’re So Vain…

You might recall back in November of 2009 ESET released the findings of a survey about cybercrime We went back to Competitive Edge Research & Communication and commissioned them to conduct a new survey to determine prevalence of social networking as well as to identify online security and privacy concerns of Americans.

In addition to investigating social networking and privacy concerns the participants were asked a few questions about what they do on the Internet. About 10% of the people surveyed claimed to have used the internet to search for information about someone they might want to date. 18% claimed to have searched for a former girlfriend or boyfriend, and… are you ready… 45% claimed to search for themselves! The actual percentage of those searching for themselves is much higher in certain age groups and lower for people over 75. People over 75 seem to be more interested in finding past flames than in finding new dates.

58% of the people in the 35 to 44 age group search for themselves, the highest of any age group. The 25 to 34 age group has the highest incidence of searching for potential dates at 21%. So, how does this tie into social networking? It turns out that people who use social networks search less for themselves than people who do not use social networks. Where 49% of the people using social networks reported searching for themselves online, nearly 73% of the people who do not use social networks were searching for themselves. In other words, people who do not use social networks are nearly 50% more likely to be searching for themselves on line than those who do use social networks. One view of this is that people who use social networks may be more likely to be extroverts. In case you’re interested, the narcissists tend to be very educated and wealthy.

Of the people who earn more than $100,000 per year 46% were searching for themselves and 41% of the people performing these searches hold advanced degrees. Of course, this may not be narcissism, the analysts at Competitive Edge Research & Communication concluded that it is very possible these people are looking for the information about themselves for reputation management, something very important in business and academia.

When I started I said we wanted to find out about the prevalence of social networking as well as security and privacy concerns, so I’ll share what we discovered. About 54% of adults with reliable Internet connections are using social networks, however the number is tempered by the fact that more than 3/4 of Americans over the age of 65 do not use social networks at all. For the 18 to 34 year old age groups more than 75% are using one or more social network sites.

As for security concerns, while 17% of the respondents felt their online information was either not very secure or not secure at all, if we look only at perceptions of the security of social networks, 28% express these doubts. Where in general 38% of those polled felt their personal information was secure, only 15% feel their personal information is secure on social networks.

75% of the people have at least some privacy concerns where only 11% are not all concerned. In fact, only 45% of the respondents were extremely concerned or very concerned about online privacy, but when you narrow the field to those who have been victims of cybercrime the percentage jumps to 56%.

Looking at the 56% it is interesting to note the breakdown of extremely concerned and very concerned versus those who were not victims. The 26% of victims were very concerned as opposed to 24% of non victims, a 2% difference, but when you look at those who are very concerned, 30% of victims are very concerned versus 22% of non-victims, an 8% difference.

As we continue to go through the data I am sure we will have some more interesting tidbits to share.

Randy Abrams
Director of Technical Education

Author , ESET

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