AnchorFree survey: People will change the way they use Facebook after scandal

Facebook surveyThe Cambridge Analytica data scandal—where more than 50 million Facebook users unwittingly had their personal data exposed—has blanketed our news feeds and thrust online privacy concerns into the forefront.

In response to the outcry, we queried 892 of our U.S.-based Hotspot Shield users about their current attitudes towards Facebook and data privacy and found that most people will change the way they use the social network app following this latest scandal.

In total, 61% of all users said they will now limit their use of Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica data breach, and 67% said they will further limit the personal information they share across all social media channels. This suggests people are now seeking to take the protection of their online privacy into their own hands.

In general, there is strong support for more regulations. 62% of people surveyed said they were in favor of additional regulations on how companies can use data for commercial purposes, and 67% stated that they support new data regulations for Facebook and other social media platforms.

Currently, internet companies face far less regulation than businesses such as credit card or phone companies; while a credit card company might store more of your sensitive information, for example, stricter regulations prevent them from using that data in the same way Facebook can.

While Facebook is in the headlines based on this recent breach of trust, it isn’t the only company that collects or purchases user data. Many other social media and internet companies have similarly lax terms of service when it comes to the protection of their users’ data, and yet 40% of people surveyed were not aware of this. Additionally, 40% of all people polled did not know that Instagram is owned by Facebook, leading to the conclusion that more education is needed in terms of which companies are storing data and how that data is being used.

One sliver of good news for Facebook is that 61% of responders said they felt that their information will now be safer following Facebook’s release of a central page for security and privacy settings. The argument Facebook and others have made is that users agree for their data to be used when signing up for their services. There is now a strong push to ensure the “fine print” becomes more transparent for consumers, helping them understand exactly what information is being shared or stored—and how they can opt out.

See below for the results of our AnchorFree survey, and for information on how Facebook gathers data to effectively spy on its users, be sure to read our in-depth blog post.

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Q1: Do you know that Instagram is owned by Facebook?

  • Yes – 60%
  • No – 40%

Q2: Do you know that other social media companies and other digital ad companies collect or purchase the same types of data as Facebook?

  • Yes – 60%
  • No – 40%

Q3: Do you support additional regulations on how companies can use data for commercial purposes?

  • Yes – 62%
  • No – 38%

Q4: Do you support additional data regulations for Facebook and other social media platforms?

  • Yes – 67%
  • No – 33%

Q5: Will you limit your use of Facebook following the news of the Cambridge Analytica data breach?

  • Yes – 61%
  • No – 39%

Q6: Will you limit what information you share across social media channels following the news of the Cambridge Analytica data breach?

  • Yes – 67%
  • No – 33%

Q7: Do you feel that your information will be safer following Facebook’s release of a central page for security and privacy settings?

  • Yes – 61%
  • No – 39%

Methodology

The survey, conducted March 29-31, 2018, queried users of the Hotspot Shield personal VPN application by AnchorFree. The results are based on 892 completed U.S. responses.

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