A new Pew Research Center report, Reputation Management and Social Media, indicates the following:
- 57% of adult internet users now use search engines to find information about themselves online, up from 47% in 2006.
- 46% of online adults have created their own profile on a social networking site, up from just 20% in 2006.
The results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research International between August 18 and September 14, 2009, among a sample of 2,253 adults, 18 and older.
According to the report, Internet users are more concerned about privacy than ever before:
- 65% of adult social networking users have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.
- 56% have “unfriended” contacts in their network — deleting people from their friends list — and 52% have kept some people from seeing certain updates.
- 36% have deleted comments that others have made on their profile, and 30% have removed their name from photos that were tagged to identify them.
Results about the quality of users’ digital footprints:
- When self-searchers query their name using a search engine, the majority (63%) say they find at least some relevant material connected to their name. But 35% of self-searchers say their queries do not yield any relevant results.
- Just 31% of self-searchers say that most of the results on the critical first page are actually about them, while 62% say the first page of results is mostly about someone else with a name very similar or identical to theirs.
And as far as repercussions from digital dirt that they find about themselves:
- 4% of online adults say they have personally had bad experiences because embarrassing or inaccurate information was posted about them online, a number that is unchanged since 2006.
- 8% have requested that someone remove information about them that was posted online, including things like photos or videos. The vast majority (82%) say they are usually successful at getting that content taken down.