Social media

Young folks less concerned about privacy - but take more countermeasures

Oct. 30, 2013 at 9:07 AM ET

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J.D. Power

Think that frat party Facebook photo is all you have to worry about hiding online? Think again.

A new survey from J.D. Power and published by the McGraw Hill Financial Global Institute suggests that concerns about companies using private information aren't actually more prevalent today than they were a decade ago — but there's definitely a generation gap in how people grade the risk and deal with it.

The survey, conducted online and offline with about 8,600 adults from the U.S., China and India, asked about who should have access to certain types of personal data, and what people were doing to safeguard themselves against abuse.

Despite privacy issues being in the headlines nearly every day, only a quarter of people below the age of 17 reported they were "very concerned" about privacy, whole those 48 and older were twice as likely to pick that option.

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J.D. Power

Yet despite claiming they weren't worried, younger folks were far more likely than older ones to set their social networks to "private," or use fake information on a site or app. In fact, more than a quarter of those below 35 indicated they'd falsified data.

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J.D. Power

Perhaps, the survey analysts speculate, it is precisely because younger users exert more control over their online presence that they feel privacy issues are less of a problem.

One thing everyone seems to agree on, though, is that very few people should have access to your browsing and social media data. Almost no one (under 10 percent in all cases) felt companies and the government should be able to look up your Facebook posts or browsing history.

The broader trends are a little harder to nail down, since with the world of tech advancing as fast as it does, privacy issues are something of a moving target. But major revelations like the PRISM program and others are almost sure to make people seriously consider their privacy online and offline over the next few year.

Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.

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