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What privacy profile do you fit?

Ryan Francis | Jan. 30, 2017
Are you a Reckless Rebel or a Nervous Nellie? Whatever your sharing category, we've got tips to help you do it safely.

Credit: Stephen Sauer

In an era of constant likes and shares, where is the privacy line drawn? Are you someone who worries about being watched as you purchase an item online? Or do you consider loss of privacy the price you pay for having the world at your fingertips.

Forrester recently released a report that reveals the characteristics of users and the factors that go into how much – or how little – each category of user shares. “We frequently hear that Millennials don’t care about privacy — just look at everything they share on social media! But this ignores the fact that Millennials actually manage their online identities quite aggressively."

"While it may appear that they overshare online, they use privacy settings, ephemeral messaging, and browser plug-ins to control who sees what about them. This is exactly how most of us behave in the physical world: Our willingness to share personal information with specific people changes depending on our relationship with them.”

The research firm has conveniently created four categories for the different sharing types.

At one end of the spectrum are the Nervous Nellies, who Forrester says are at least 50 years old and who keep their personal information close to the vest. On the other end of the spectrum are the Reckless Rebels. As you may have guessed, they throw caution to the wind and lack any filters when it comes to sharing personal information.

Forrester says two-thirds of US adults online are willing to share some of their personal information in exchange for benefits, while only one-third can’t be motivated to share any of it for any reason.

Data-Savvy Digitals: These are the tech-savvy “digital natives.” They are comfortable with the notion of a collaborative internet, where they use their personal data to “pay” for free content and services. But don’t think they aren’t privacy conscious: This group of young people will gladly use technology and sophisticated identity obfuscation tactics if they don’t trust you — or how you’re going to use their personal data. This group is also the most socially conscious: They expect firms to “give back” and consider themselves environmentally aware. These individuals actually take the time to read privacy policies and are willing to cancel a transaction if they don’t like what they see.

Reckless Rebels: This category of users are disenfranchised and think they have nothing to lose. They share their personal data widely and take few or no precautions to protect their privacy. A significant number of them are college-aged, and they haven’t faced the challenges of job hunting or credit seeking yet. Individuals in this group may change their reckless behavior as their life stage changes.


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