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Facebook users want to ’opt-in’ to share personal data, Sophos poll reveals

May 2010 by Sophos

A poll of 605 Facebook users conducted by Sophos in the wake of the latest changes to the social network’s privacy settings has revealed the vast majority of users would favour default settings that do not automatically share their information.

Facebook this week simplified its privacy settings - allowing users to control who can see their friends and pages, but the network’s attitude to data privacy continues to attract criticism as it makes changes to the level of control afforded to regular users.

The online survey asked: Would you have liked Facebook to have required you to ’opt-in’ to sharing rather than ’opt-out’?

- Yes, I would have preferred to ’opt-in’: 93.2%
- No, I don’t mind having to ’opt-out’: 6.8%
- Total Facebook users polled: 605

"It’s good news that Facebook has responded to user pressure and made it simpler to control what information you share with who - it was a spaghetti jungle of options before. But they have missed an opportunity to address the real issue, and regain the trust of those people who are concerned that Facebook doesn’t take privacy and the safety of its users seriously enough," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. "Facebook claims that most users want to share; if sharing is good, then why not make it opt-in? The sad fact is that Facebook’s privacy decisions are driven more by economics then the safety of its users. With almost half a billion users, it’s time Facebook took responsibility for its ever expanding network and took the best interests of its members seriously."

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