Is Privacy Dead?

The Swedish actress Greta Garbo was famous for her blonde hair, sultry eyes, and the saying” I want to be alone” – a statement that was attributed to her desire for personal privacy as a celebrity.  Today, thanks to our online engagement, we all seem to be celebrities of a sort, and our personal privacy has become more of an issue than ever before.

As part of our online activities, we commonly share, photos, locations, opinions, job information, trips and much more every day.  To most consumers, transparency means more than knowing what companies are doing as part of their business process – it also means providing personal information as the price for participation in many Web 2.0 sites.

As I speak and teach around the country, the  most common reason people give me for a reluctance to participate in sites like Facebook , LinkedIn, Foursquare and Twitter is a concern that their participation means an invasion of that privacy. Recent studies bear that out showing that 6 out of 10 consumers surveyed don’t trust online companies to protect their privacy, and 1 out of three don’t believe that they can protect their privacy when they participate in online activities.

Millennials, our digital natives, have less concern over privacy, which may speak to their ease of adoption and enthusiastic participation in the online world. They are willing to opt-in to location tracking or on-line tracking, and expecting to share private information, almost half of those surveyed expected some sort of reward for providing personal information to companies on their websites.

Interestingly enough, though privacy is a concern, 61% of social; users, say they would share even more personal information if they were given better and clearer controls over their privacy settings, allowing them to choose what they want to share and who they want to share it with.

If you operate a blog or web site, knowing what people want is crucial. To help you understand how consumers feel, and what they want , a great visual was created by our friends at MDG Advertising, summarizing studies performed by Anonymizer, Harris Interactive, The Ponemon Institute, and the Consumer Institute for Citizen research.


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