61% of Social Networking Users Would Share More If They Had More Control

64% Don't Like Sharing Family Photos Publicly OnlineA new study by Harris Interactive – commissioned by Posterous – reveals that 61% percent of social networking users will share more if they can control who sees what they share.  Examining social network user preferences for privacy, particularly regarding photo sharing, the survey found that one in five respondents (20%) currently share photos by email instead of via social networks as a result of privacy concerns.

Other highlights from the survey:

  • 7 in 10 Facebook users believe that Facebook wants everything they share to be public
  • 68% of Facebook users don’t understand Facebook’s privacy settings
  • 45% of ‘friends’ on social networks are people that users have never actually met in person
  • 59% of all photos shared online are shared privately
  • 64% of people don’t like sharing their family photos publicly online
  • twice as many users rely on email vs. social networks to share photos privately

Women were more concerned over photo privacy than men were: 26% of women don’t want any of their photos public vs. only 19% of men.  The young female demographic (18-29) is most concerned over photo privacy, with 74% of their total photos shared privately, in comparison to the significantly lower 52% of photos shared privately for males.

According to Sachin Agarwal, founder and CEO of Posterous, “These findings mirror what our users have been telling us and as privacy options continue to confuse and elude, private online sharing is primed to be the battleground of the future for social networks.”

Posterous Offers A Private Sharing Alternative to FacebookAs a social networking and blogging site now focused on maintaining privacy, Posterous has good reason to emphasize user confusion over Facebook privacy policies, and to tout their own platform as a safer, more private competitor.  As the “privacy-aware” social network, “Posterous users are sharing four times as many photos, and five times as many videos privately as they are publicly,” according to The Next Web.

Another study, sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, analyzed privacy for online Americans of various age groups. Out of the 5,000 Americans surveyed, 70% had ignored friend requests in order to limit who could see their online posts, according to All Things Digital. The majority – 58% – of teenagers surveyed said they’d posted statuses, comments or photos about themselves or their families that they later regretted.

Will social networks focused on private sharing create some serious competition for Facebook’s more public platform?

The October 2011 survey of 2,014 U.S. social networking users aged 18 and over was commissioned by Posterous. Harris Interactive conducted the survey, and Posterous analyzed the resulting data.