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April 11, 2011

Columbia University study: Facebook users either sharing too much, or too little

A computer scientist at Columbia University found that every single person surveyed in a study about Facebook usage was sharing something they wished to hide, or hiding something they wished to share -- a finding that highlights the shortcomings of the online social network's privacy settings, according to his research.

The study is believed to be the first that considers the privacy intentions of users of the popular network, which has more than 600 million members worldwide, and attempts to reconcile users intentions with how their information is actually displayed on the site.

Steven M. Bellovin, who as a graduate student helped develop the USENET internet discussion board system more than three decades ago, reviewed his study during a talk to students at the University of Maryland School of Law today in Baltimore.

"If you think it should be kept private, have you succeeded in doing so?" Bellovin posited to the crowd.

Bellovin said that most people indicated in his study that they cared about privacy, and that media coverage of privacy concerns with Facebook had made them pay more attention to the issue. But a majority of users indicated that they can not or will not fix errors in their privacy settings, he said.

"The overwhelming majority of people have given up," said Bellovin. "That, to us, is a fairly damning statement on the user interface."

The study was limited to surveying 65 Columbia University students, who were recruited on campus, and completed by using a customized Facebook application.

Below, Bellovin, left, accompanied by UMD law professor Danielle Citron.
bellovin-citron.JPG


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Social Media
        

Comments

Count me among the share too little crowd.
I'd like to erase what little there is out there.

Related to this concept of sharing too much and desire to erase...
whats the deal with reputation.com?

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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