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49 Percent Adults Don’t Use Privacy Settings on Social Networks, Microsoft Online Reputation Survey

In observance of Data Privacy Day 2012, Microsoft commissioned a survey of 5,000 people from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Ireland and Spain, revealing a wide variance of online behaviors and attitudes and explored the resulting impact to people’s overall online profiles and reputations.

The research shows that “although 91% of people have done something to manage their overall online profile at some point, 67% feel in control of their online reputation and 44% actively think about the long-term consequences of their online activities,” revealed Microsoft.

In an increasingly connected world, everything people do online, from responding to emails and texts to clicking the “like” and “retweet” buttons on favorite Web pages, uploading photos and making purchases online, contributes to their online reputation — here’re the key findings:

  • Research found that 37% adults rarely or never stay vigilant and conduct their own “reputation report” from time to time.
  • According to survey “57% adults think about taking steps to keep their work and personal profiles private; however, 17% people have inadvertently shared information online that was intended to remain private. Most commonly shared are details about one’s personal life (56%) and personal photos (38%).”
  • According to the survey, “49% of adults do not use privacy settings on social networking sites,” microsoft revealed.
  • 14% people have been negatively impacted by the online activities of others. Of those, 21% believe it led to being fired from a job, 16% to being refused health care, 16% to being turned down for a job they were applying for, and 15% to being turned down for a mortgage.

Micorosoft also posted a infographic about its findings:

Microsoft Online Reputation Survey Findings Infographic

And, to help people cultivate and maintain a positive online reputation, Microsoft offers following tips:

  • “Search all variations of your name in Bing and other popular search engines, and evaluate if the results reflect the reputation you’d like to share with the world, including current or future employers, colleagues, friends and family members.
  • Seprate your professional and personal profiles: “Your online profile can be a determining factor for hiring managers and application reviewers. Be sure to use different email addresses, screen names, referring blogs and websites for each profile, and avoid cross-referencing personal sites,” Microsoft states.
  • In Internet Explorer 9 or other Web browsers and on social networking sites, personal blogs and other places where you maintain personal data, review and use the privacy settings.
  • Think about what you’re posting online (expecially personal photos and videos), with who you’re sharing the information with, and how it’ll impact your reputation.
  • Conduct yourself in a civil manner, showing respect for those with whom you engage.
  • Microsoft offers guidance on how to be a better digital citizen in its Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit,” advised Microsoft.