The study featured a sample of 607 adults, and was conducted in light of when whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked confidential reports detailing the NSA’s surveillance activity last year. Snowden was originally a contractor at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and then later at the National Security Agency (NSA), and felt uncomfortable with the government’s spying and decided to take critical action. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to. They are intent on making every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them,” he told The Guardian.
Respondents commented that despite Snowden’s findings and being uncomfortable about the government’s surveillance, they’re still regularly using the internet. When it comes to social media, more than half of participants said that they shared information or posted comments in their real name or a screen name that is easily associated with their real name. Only 42% of respondents said they share information online anonymously. 80% of participants said they were concerned with marketers and private companies taking advantage of the personal information they post online. 70% said they were worried about the government monitoring their social media presence “without their permission.”
Participants were more nervous about the information they post on social media than any other form of internet activity. 81% said they did not feel secure sharing private information through venues such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 61% said they feel somewhat more secure sharing information over a landline telephone.
Fortunately, since Snowden’s disclosures, many companies such as Apple, Credo, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo have revised and their privacy and transparency policies to make them less accessible to the government.
(Photo courtesy of safwat sayed)