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Kids These Days...They Absolutely Care About Privacy

Tamar Gubins,
ACLU of Northern California
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May 11, 2010

Company bigwigs who want to use our personal online information justify their actions by telling us that young people don’t care about privacy. In January, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed that privacy is no longer a “social norm,” just after and just before Facebook significantly curtailed user privacy (yet again). Last year, Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger didn’t mince words when he simply said “kids don’t care” about privacy.

It turns out, they are just wrong. On Sunday, The New York Times reported on a forthcoming Pew Internet Project study that found 18-29 year olds were more likely to police their online information, monitor privacy settings, and delete or remove their names from photos online than older adults. And this comes on the heels of a University of California, Berkeley, study debunking claims of a drastic generational divide on online privacy issues. While younger and older people have some different attitudes towards privacy, the study shows that everyone is concerned about online privacy.

These two studies show the idea that under-30-year-olds just don’t care about privacy is a fallacy perpetuated by those who want to share, sell, or otherwise use this valuable information.

Facebook Settings and Privacy Changes

Clearly users care about controlling their information online. But even when users want to control their information, Facebook’s complicated settings over multiple pages, opt-out standard, “public” data, and support of third-party applications which collect and keep data about a user and a user’s friends, makes control difficult. The New York Times article interviewed a pre-med Tufts student who claimed to have spent an hour trying to limit her Facebook profile before giving up and turning to chemistry homework. Apparently college chemistry is easier than figuring out Facebook’s privacy settings.

Real control over information means giving people the information they need to make choices about what information to share before they share, not making changes and then allowing those who realize the implications to opt out. We hope Facebook will work towards giving users this kind of control over their personal information so they can connect and communicate without paying with their privacy.

Please join us and Demand Your dotRights. It’s time to push companies to give us more control over our own information! Sign our petition demanding that Facebook give you better control over your own information. Demand a privacy upgrade — Demand Your dotRights!