A seven-year study from Carnegie Mellon University revealed that Facebook (FB) users actually shared more personal data after the company made some controversial privacy changes. Researchers found that modifications to the site’s interface and default privacy settings led to a “significant increase” in users disclosing personal information to Facebook, third-party apps and advertisers, PHYS.org reported. The study found that while the company’s privacy changes may have increased a user’s feeling of being in control of his or her data. At the same time, the changes led to confusion that increased the “disclosures of sensitive information to strangers.”
“These findings illustrate the challenges social network users face when trying to manage online privacy, the power of social media providers to affect their disclosure and privacy behavior, and the potential limits of notice and consent mechanisms in addressing consumers’ on-line privacy concerns,” co-author Fred Stutzman said.
The study, which was published in The Journal of Privacy and Confidentiality, examined data from more than 5,000 Facebook users and utilized information dating back to the site’s early days in 2005.
A Facebook spokesperson said, “Independent research has verified that the vast majority of the people on Facebook are engaging with and using our straightforward and powerful privacy tools—allowing them to control what they’re sharing, and with whom they’re sharing.”