When it comes to privacy management on social media, a new study finds that the classic Calypso song popularized by Harry Belafonte may be true: “Man smart, woman smarter.”
Just as research finds that women are considered to be more thoughtful and deliberate investors, so does a new Pew Internet & American Life Project survey find that women are more cautious in editing their connections, using privacy settings, and managing their reputations.
Overall, according to the study, 63 percent of online adults currently maintain a profile on a social networking site, up from 20 percent in 2006. Fifty-eight percent said they have restricted their main profile to be seen only by friends. Another 19 percent said they have their profile set to be partially private so that friends of friends or networks can view it. Just over one-quarter (26 percent) of these online adults said they use additional privacy settings to limit what certain friends can or cannot see. Twenty percent allow public access to their profile.
Women, the study found, are much more conservative in their privacy management. More than two-thirds (67 percent) restrict access to friends vs. 48 percent of men. Men are more likely than women to choose partially private settings (23 percent vs. 16 percent) or fully public (26 percent vs. 14 percent).
As social networking has become more pervasive, so too have profile owners become more active managers. Sixty-three percent overall have deleted people from their networks or friend lists, up from 56 percent in 2009. Another 44 percent said they have deleted comments visitors have made on their profile, up from 36 percent two years ago, while 37 percent have removed their names from photos that were tagged to identify them, up from 30 percent in 2009.
Women have emerged as the most diligent profile “pruners.” Sixty-seven percent who maintain a profile have deleted people from their network, compared with 58 percent of men. Women are also less impulsive posters of updates, comments, photos or videos. Male profile owners, the study found, are almost twice as likely as women to profess regret for posting content (15 percent vs. 8 percent).
A reason my women may be savvier than men in the realm of privacy management is that women are more active users of social networks than men, according to another recent survey conducted for Rebtel. Sixty-eight percent of women use social media to stay connected to friends, compared to 54 percent of men. When survey respondents were asked what one method of communication they would choose, 18 percent of women said social media vs. 12 percent of men.
Three-quarters of men expressed a preference to talking on the phone and texting compared to 73 percent of women.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.