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Who Cares About Facebook Privacy? Students Do

Think students don’t care about online privacy? Think again, say two researchers who have published a new paper about the privacy attitudes of 18- and 19-year-olds.

The researchers, Danah Boyd and Eszter Hargittai, report that most Facebook users modified their privacy settings at least once in 2009 and that “engagement with privacy settings increased significantly” between 2009 and 2010.

“Over all, our data show that far from being nonchalant and unconcerned about privacy matters, the majority of young adult users of Facebook are engaged with managing their privacy settings on the site at least to some extent,” the researchers write.

Ms. Boyd, a researcher at Microsoft Research, and Ms. Hargittai, an associate professor in the communication-studies department at Northwestern University, base their findings on surveys of students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their paper is published in the August issue of the journal First Monday.

The authors speculate that the increased privacy interest could come from public attention devoted to the subject, from more changes in Facebook’s default settings, or from prompts that Facebook shows users.

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