The naiveté of privacy expectations

Issues around online privacy boil down to: who accesses online activity and how do they use the information? Youth are concerned with adults poking their noses where they don’t belong.

Referring to a teen who posted her journal online, Danah Boyd, ethnographer/senior researcher at Microsoft Research, New England, said, “…she knows that her content is completely publicly accessible….But she has this expectation that her mother isn’t supposed to be looking at it, that privacy isn’t about whether or not her content is accessible but what the norms are that govern that access...”

The highest bidder
Compared to their parents, teens are far less concerned about their information being stolen or sold to marketers.

“(A recent report) found that only 9 percent of teens were ‘very’ concerned about third parties, such as advertisers, gaining access to their online information, compared with nearly half their parents,” writes journalist Alan Greenblatt.

On the other hand, millennials, born between 1977 and 1995, tend to be more trusting of how companies will use their data. “Gallup found that an impressive 80% of them say they have ‘some’ or "a lot" of trust in the companies they do business with to keep their personal information secure.” (Fleming and Adkins)

Flawed wisdom

Presumably, as we age, we become wise enough not to post embarrassing photos or information, and simply hope that others will respect our online “space." But older generations are still naïve when it comes to trusting the policies of businesses.

“…the whole idea of privacy policies is a misnomer, at least in terms of people's expectations. In survey after survey, says Joseph Turow, (a communication professor at the University of Pennsylvania), huge majorities of Americans mistakenly believe that a website having a privacy policy means they're entitled to privacy — that their information won't be shared or sold. That's just not the case in most instances…” (Greenblatt)

Regardless of age, when it comes to who sees what online, we all have a lot to learn.


(Boyd, Danah. “The Future of Privacy in Social Media,” Accessed 25 February 2017.)

(Greenblatt, Alan. “When It Comes To Online Privacy, A Disconnect For The Young,” 10 June 2013. Accessed 26 February 2017)

(Madden, Mary; Lenhart, Amanda; Cortesi, Sandra; Gasser, Urs; Duggan, Maeve; Smith, Aaron; and Beaton, Meredith. “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy,” 21 May 2013. Accessed 26 February 2017.)

(Fleming, John and Adkins, Amy. “Data Security: Not a Big Concern for Millennials,” 9 June 2016, Business Journal, Accessed 26 February 2017.)

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