Consumer Reports Survey on Online Risks

The June 2011 issue of Consumer Reports has the results of their national State of the Net survey of 2089 online households.  The results of the survey, conducted earlier this year by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, can be found here but here are a few findings that caught our eye:

  • Roughly one in five Facebook users hadn’t used Facebook’s privacy controls.
  • Twenty-three percent of active Facebook users didn’t know some of their “friends” well enough to feel completely comfortable about their own or their family’s security or safety. An additional 6 percent admitted to having a friend who made them uneasy about those things. That means almost one in three Facebook users aren’t fully comfortable with all their friends.
  • Many active Facebook users take risks that can lead to burglaries, identity theft, and stalking. Fifteen percent had posted their current location or travel plans, 34 percent their full birth date, and 21 percent of those with children at home had posted those children’s names and photos.
  • More than 5 million online U.S. households experienced some type of abuse on Facebook in the past year, including virus infections, identity theft, and for a million children, bullying.

We believe these results validate many of the things we do with the Reppler service to help users keep their Facebook image clean AND safe.  In the area of cleanliness, we scan the entire Wall of each of our users to provide information about how they can be perceived by others and flag potentially inappropriate content.  Many people believe they don’t have to be concerned about this since they have their privacy controls in place.  As the above results show, not everybody uses their privacy controls and even for many who do, people who are practically strangers are seeing their content since they really don’t know their “friends” well.

In the area of safety, the Reppler service checks for any publicly-available information about a user on their Facebook profile that should be private, like their full birth date or their hometown, to prevent risks like identity theft.  The service also warns users of any links on their Wall that might be malicious so that they don’t fall victim to malware, spam, and other threats.

What do you think of the Consumer Reports findings?  Do they surprise you?

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2 Responses to Consumer Reports Survey on Online Risks

  1. Wilson says:

    I am not surprised by Consumer Reports findings. In fact, I believed that those number were low.

    Before now, I hadn’t realized that Reppler was an online service that you connected through a Facebook account. I have a better understanding of how you are getting your data. I think this an excellent way for users to step back and look at how other may perceive Facebook profiles.

    I endorse what you are doing to the point that I have signed up with Reppler as well as shared the link on my profile to my 120+ friends and family. I understand that I don’t fall under the norm of a typical user, but the more data you have the better you can help.

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