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Friday, May 21, 2010
More Than Half Of Facebook Users Consider Quitting Over Privacy

Almost two thirds of Facebook users are considering leaving, with 16% of those polled claiming to have already stopped using Facebook as a result of inadequate control over their data, according to an online poll published by Sophos security firm.

The online poll asked Facebook users if privacy concerns might make them consider quitting the service.

The votes reveal the extent of members' concerns regarding the popular social network's privacy settings. Sophos' findings suggest that almost two thirds of Facebook users are considering leaving, with 16% of those polled claiming to have already stopped using Facebook as a result of inadequate control over their data.

These results come amidst growing criticism that Facebook is facing over changes to the way that the social network can share user data across its site and with other websites. Concerns have centred on the complexity and 'opt-out' approach to sharing member information with wider networks. Media reports suggest that Facebook is planning to announce changes to its privacy settings within the next few days, but it is unclear as to whether any changes will be substantial enough to address user concerns.

What this poll shows is that the majority of the people we polled are fed up with the lack of control that Facebook gives them over their own data. Most still don't know how to set their Facebook privacy options safely, finding the whole system confusing. What's needed is a fundamental shift towards asking users to 'opt-in' to sharing information, rather than to 'opt-out'.

A mass exodus from Facebook seems unlikely, but Facebook members are clearly getting more interested in knowing precisely who can view their data. Sophos has seen "delete Facebook account" becoming a hot search term on Google, and a number of campaigns, including a 'Quit Facebook Day', spring up to raise awareness of the issues.

With this survey showing that only 24% of users aren't thinking about quitting, Facebook will need to make sure further changes to the privacy policy are clear, concise and in the interest of making it easier for members to know exactly who has access to whatever they chose to upload.

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