December 2, 2011
Original Research – Most Facebook Subscribers Don’t Trust Facebook
One important part of the FTC complaint against Facebook that hasn’t received as much attention as it should is count 7:
Facebook has provided third parties with access to a user’s profile information – specifically photos or videos that a user has uploaded – even after the user has deleted or deactivated his or her account.
A study of Facebook subscribers I conducted this summer finds that 80% of subscribers don’t “trust” Facebook to follow through with their promises. When asked whether they believed Facebook would delete their records immediately after the subscriber deleted their account, 119 people out of 150 surveyed, or 80.41% said they did not. 56% did not believe Facebook immediately removed posts after they were deleted, and 65% believed their records would still be available on backup tapes after they deleted them.
In focus group discussions that followed, respondents repeatedly used the word “trust” to describe their relationship with Facebook. They said they didn’t trust that Facebook would handle their records the way they expected; deleting the records when they hit delete, keeping information private when they set privacy settings. But, they said, they used it anyway because they had to: all of their friends were on it.
With these survey results in mind, the FTC settlement that not only requires Facebook to be more consistent and truthful about privacy, but requires a third party review of their practices, may actually lead subscribers to trust Facebook more. A good sign for a company about to go public.
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