Andy Stubbings writes:

One trend we’ve been monitoring for a while, as readers of this blog will know, is the rising level of concerns over data privacy and security to do with social networking.

We recently came across this chart (and shown above: it’s US data) which suggest  astonishingly low levels of trust in the ability of social networks to look after personal data. They are trusted less on this than banks, credit agencies, or government departments.

This is consistent with other data we’ve seen on the topic, such as this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer, which also finds that technology is the most trusted industry, and media the least trusted. It would seem from this that, although social networks such as Facebook occupy a blurry position in consumers’ minds, we are probably more likely to think of them as media rather than technology brands.

As it turns out that makes a big difference. There is a saying in media that “if you’re not paying for content, you’re the product being sold”. I think consumers know this viscerally, and therefore expect that social media sites which are free to use are going to play fast and loose with their personal data, particularly those that are thought more of as corporations rather than associations or amateur networks. It is difficult to position yourself as a tech company and benefit from the associated halo of trust if you are actually in the business of selling your audience.

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