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Users are worried about social network security and privacy

Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ and Myspace present potential threats
Thu Oct 13 2011, 13:41

THE MAJORITY of social network users are worried about security and privacy.

Most people are using Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, while the newer Google+ has fewer subscribers so far and Myspace barely registers on the charts at all.

A report by security firm Barracuda Labs found that two of the top reasons for choosing one social network over another are security at 92 per cent and privacy at 90 per cent.

Despite such high concerns about security and privacy, people also chose a social network based upon ease of use at 87 per cent and whether their friends use it at 91 per cent. This explains why Facebook, the dominant social network, is in top position with 92.9 per cent of those asked using it.

Linkedin and Twitter were almost neck and neck with 75.6 per cent and 74.8 per cent of users respectively, while Google's social experiment, Google+, was used by just over half of people at 55 per cent, which isn't bad for such a new entry into the market.

Myspace, on the other hand, was used by only 5.9 per cent, which brings up the question of whether Justin Timberlake got value for money with his acquisition of the beleagured social network earlier this year.

One of the primary reasons for Myspace's low adoption is user perception of poor security. A whopping 84 per cent revealed that they felt unsafe using the network, compared to 40 per cent for Facebook, which seems ironic since Facebook is widely known for security and privacy abuses.

Linkedin registered considerably less user fear over security, most likely due to its focus as a professional network, with only 14 per cent worried about using it. Google+ was the second least worrying network at 21 per cent, but this might increase as it grows and becomes a bigger threat to Facebook. Twitter fears came in third at 28 per cent.

The biggest security issue appears to be spam, with a whopping 91.9 per cent of people being exposed to it on a social network. A far more worrying figure, however, is that 54.3 per cent were targeted with phishing attacks, while 23.3 per cent received malware. Only 16.6 per cent said that their accounts sent spam to other users, while 13 per cent said that their accounts had been hijacked or their passwords were stolen.

Privacy is just as big an issue as security for many social network users, with 51 per cent unhappy with privacy controls in Facebook, 30 per cent unhappy with them in Twitter, 29 per cent in Google+, and only 25 per cent in Linkedin. The relatively high unhappiness rate with Google+ is surprising, given that transparency regarding privacy controls is such a big focus for it.

Despite the popularity of social networks, 92 per cent of people fear the possibility of identify theft, while one in five people said that they were negatively affected by exposing information on a social network. µ


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