Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a new report on online privacy called Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency. The report covers a wide array of issues, ranging from the privacy concerns with Web 2.0, search engines, online identity and reputation management, and the changing nature of personal information online. You can download the report in PDF here.

I haven’t had the time to digest the entire report, but here are its key findings:

  • The nature of personal information is changing in the age of Web 2.0.
  • Internet users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago.
  • Few monitor their online presence with great regularity.
  • Most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information.
  • Internet users have reason to be uncertain about the availability of personal data; 60% of those who search for their names actually find information about themselves online, but 38% say their searches comeup short.
  • One in ten internet users have a job that requires them to self-promote or market their name online.
  • Among adults who create social networking profiles, transparency is the norm.
  • More than half of all adult internet users have used a search engine to follow others’ footprints.
  • Basic contact information tops most searchers’ wish lists.

I’ll post more once I get through the entire document. In the meantime, see reactions from Dan Solove, Fred Stutzman, and Nick Carr.

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