The world’s undisputed most popular social networking site has become more user-friendly, so to say, when it comes to making users comfortable in sharing their personal and/or private information. A study from Carnegie Mellon University revealed recently that for each time Facebook would tweak its user privacy settings, the site’s members would react by sharing more information to both contacts and third-party applications and advertisers.
The study covered 5,076 Facebook users and spanned seven years, from 2005 to 2011, and was initiated to see if there is any connection to Facebook updating its privacy settings and its users being more open with sharing information. The study claims that in the first five years of the survey (2005-2009), users would be very selective in choosing what type of information is published on their news feed. But when Facebook updated its settings towards the end of 2009, users shared more information accordingly. However, this may have been a result of confusion over the new settings, according to the researchers. In 2011, the Timeline feature was introduced, and the study went on to say that users shared more information due to the addition of new fields, such as Milestones and History, among others.
According to Future of Privacy Forum director Jules Polonetsky, the Carnegie Mellon study has revealed that “Facebook users have reached a reasonable equilibrium now that there is far less data being shared publicly and much more interactions with your friends, which is a good thing.” These comments were also made in conjunction with another study that revealed that 222,000 Facebook posts had reached 61 percent of the post authors’ contacts.
Granted, Facebook’s much-maligned privacy system continues to have its flaws, but as long as it gradually makes changes to its security protocols, Facebook’s users may become even more comfortable sharing data, if the study is any indication.