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Monday, July 12, 2010

Conflicting reports on the current status of privacy concerns

The “Gen Y” or “Millennials” bunch, characterized by a Pew Research Center report as “always connected,” and sharing information “openly,” will probably change their habits eventually, becoming more careful. In the meantime, “Sharing is not the new black, it is the new normal.” according to Matt Gallivan, a research analyst for NPR, as reported onMSNBC.

Easy Analytical Software, Inc. (EASI), a worldwide provider of demographic and lifestyle data and software, says there are a total of 42.3 million Millennials aged 35 to 44, almost equally divided between male and female with the latter slightly higher.

The Pew study surveyed several technology experts from academia, research, business and government. More than two-thirds of these respondents said they do not believe this group will mature into more careful protection of their personal data. Gen Y feels this openness is a fair exchange for staying connected with job hunting, personal relationships, professional alliances and the like.

Howard Rheingold, who wrote The Virtual Community confirmed to Pew that, although some are concerned over privacy issues, he thinks most Millennials will continue to share openly. Pew says "Steeped in digital technology and social media, they treat their multitasking handheld gadgets almost like a body part…"

On the other hand, young adults aged 18 to 29 are progressively more concerned about their private information and are monitoring it more closely to protect their privacy. This is another Pew study which indicates, unlike what most people think about this age group, they are more likely to check their reputations online and manage what they find. EASI says this bunch numbers around 51 million.

As an example, 71 percent of those 19 to 29 say they have changed the “default” privacy settings on their social networking sites to limit what others can see. This is compared with 62 percent age 30 to 49, and 55 percent age 50 to 64. The 18 to 29 crowd was asked how much of the time they can trust social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Linkedin. The answer was 28 percent, compared to 19 percent for the 30 to 49 and 14 percent 50 to 64.

NEXT: How Facebook constantly flies in the face of privacy

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