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


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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.

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