Just recently, Kashmir Hill of Forbes dug through the results of a poll MTV and the Associated Press did about social networking and Internet use among young people. The staggering result she found is that around 21% of the 1,335 14-24 year olds reported that their email, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or “other” accounts or emails had been accessed and used by someone other than themselves without permission. The more staggering result is that, of those victims, 22% said it didn’t upset them at all, and 37% said it only upset them a little. That’s a total of 59% of victims that wouldn’t say they were even moderately upset.
When asked about whether they thought about the consequences of uploading things to the Internet, mainly that this is no going back, the numbers show that many younger users have barely given this any thought. 41% had given little-to-no thought to the fact that you can never tell where these things will wind up. 44% gave little-to-no thought that stuff might come back to haunt them. 69% gave little-to-no thought that, man, the cops could see this stuff.
Now those numbers can be pretty shocking, especially the ones that give some insight into the lack of foresight many kids have when uploading pictures of who knows what. While the unauthorized account use numbers seem pretty big too, I think you can explain a little bit of that away. The questions were pretty broadly worded and don’t seem to draw any line between friends posting embarrassing statuses on your Facebook account because you were on their computer and forgot to log out (which really isn’t that troubling if it’s light in tone) and, say, knowning that someone logged into your account remotely by divining your username and password. It also didn’t directly address the tone of the event in question. The study did address whether or not the unauthorized user was known or unknown, but there’s a lot of swing in the “known” category. Your buddy is different from your creepy biology teacher, for instance.
Still, this poll illustrates the vast gulf between the different kinds of Internet users. For every dude out there who gets outraged by tracking cookies, there’s another dude who has never once considered that those photos of him in drag might ever come back to haunt him in the future. There’s not a lot you can do to change the way people feel about things, but there is a lot that you can do about the potential consequences they are aware of. Of course, if this generation of young Facebook users doesn’t learn its lesson until it learns it by harsh experience, you can bet that the next generation might be a little more careful after growing up in a world of over-sharing horror stories.
Read the full poll here.
- Besides other people on your accounts, you can worry about Facebook apps
- and Facebook cookies breaching your privacy