Privacy: How Much Do We Really Want or Care About Private Information?

Women are more likely to have private Facebook pages.  Image by Ray_from_LA

Women are more likely to have private Facebook pages. Image by Ray_from_LA

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Mark Zuckerberg, huffed that re-posting her family picture without permission, which she herself had posted on Facebook,  showed a lack of “human decency.”


As Dan Lyons wrote on Readwritesocial, “How awful this must have been for you! How… invasive. What a violation.” 

While it is fun to chuckle at the hypocrisy of the Zuckerberg clan, it does beg the question, how much privacy do we really want?

Men, Women and Teens and Facebook Privacy

A Pew study reported by Mary Madden found that while 65% of adults have Facebook pages, only 20% of people have made them completely public.  In November of 2012, Madden and colleagues reported on that 81% of parents are “concerned” about how much information their teens share online. Women were “much more likely,” 67% verses 48%, to set their Facebook setting to “friends only.”

While parents are concerned about their children’s use of Facebook, the Pew study found that age did not affect the likelihood of choosing a private setting noting, “users of all ages are equally likely to choose a private, semi-private or public setting for their profile.” Ironically, those with more education report more difficulty managing their Facebook privacy settings.

Check your own Facebook settings.  Image by

Check your own Facebook settings. Image by

Unfriending, Untagging and Deleting Comments

Women and young adults are more likely to prune their friend lists, delete comments, and otherwise personally manage their Facebook accounts. Actively managing your online profile appears to be something that women and younger people are concerned about.

Perhaps women rightly fear being stalked or harassed more than men, being that these crimes occur to women more frequently. states, “…women are especially vulnerable to online harassment...”

Why are We So Outraged by Randi Zuckerberg?

The universal outrage probably stems from the fact that the average Facebook user knows they don’t have the power to correct errors or ensure their intentions will be honored. Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group, was quoted by CBSNews, “The thing that bugged me about Randi Zuckerberg’s response is that she used her name as a bludgeoning device. Not everyone has that. She used her position to get it taken it down.”

The response by Facebook has been to make privacy settings easier to access.  Click the little padlock symbol on your Facebook page and see who can see what.


Lyons, D. Yes, Randi Zuckerberg, Please Lecture Us About ‘Human Decency. (2012). Readwritesocial. Accessed December 28, 2012.

Madden, M. et al. Parents, Teens, and Online Privacy. Pew Internet. (2012) Accessed December 28, 2012.

Madden, M. Privacy Management on Social Media Sites. Pew Internet. (2012). Accessed December 28, 2012.

Stalking Victims. What’s Cyber Stalking? (2003). Accessed December 28, 2012.

Raicu, I. Are Attitudes about Privacy Changing? Markula Center for Applied Ethics. (2012) Accessed December 28, 2012.

CBS News. Zuckerberg Family Pic Stirs Facebook Privacy Debate.  (2012). Accessed December 28, 2012.

© Copyright 2012 Gina Putt, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
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  1. Gina PuttGina Putt says

    Hi Joey,, JCC, Anonomous and Mikey,
    As you note, real friends and face to face social interaction is something that people should be careful to maintain. Maybe others have had the experience that I have, though, which is that finding old friends on Facebook led to me reconnecting and seeing them again in person? Thanks for your input!

    And JCC, I think you speak for many people when they hear anyone connected to the creation of Facebook is upset about sharing personal information! Like Anonomous suggests, don’t publish anything you don’t want repeated publically. Mikey, as Victoria notes, Decoded Science isn’t selling any info about readers.

  2. Decoded ScienceDecoded Science says

    Hi, Mikey! Thanks for your comment. Although Decoded Science does require a name and email address to post comments, you’re completely at liberty to enter a fake name and email address! As you can see in our Privacy Policy, we do not sell, trade, etc. your personal information, period. Your privacy is very important to us – we do take it seriously!
    Thanks again,
    Decoded Science admin

  3. Anonomous says

    The Facebook privacy settings are a preference, not a cop. For many purposes the privacy setting is meaningless. Don’t post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing printed in tomorrows newspaper.

    By using Facebook you agreed to their TOS, which means they can do whatever they want with your information regardless of any privacy controls you might think you have. The TOS also absolves Facebook of any responsibility if your information is lost, stolen, or even if they just screw up and make your “private” stuff public. Since Facebook has no responsibility, how much do you think they really care about keeping your private information private?

  4. Joey says

    Facebook is just a Data Mining Company that sells all of you information as fast as it can. Get real People. Facebook is for losers who feel they need “FRIENDS” and just cant make any on their own. Continue to hide behind Cyber Walls and be stupid enough to put any info on a Data Mining sight and you get what you asked for stupid people. Get a Real Life !!! Get Off of Facebook.

  5. Mikey says

    Publishers like Decoded Science that post these stories are as fraudulent as the people at Facebook are. First they post a story about privacy, as though they care, and then they make you identify yourself when you post a comment like this. It’s all rather disengeous to say the least. Have you noticed how many news comment sections now require you to register your personal data just to be able to offer your opinion? Do you think they care a wit what your opinion is, or are they simply looking for information about you that they can sell? Wise up America, your privacy is at risk not from your government, but from corporate America.

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