Survey: 74% Of U.S. Adults Would Delete Themselves From Search Results If They Could

In the wake of the the Right to Be Forgotten controversy in Europe, Survey Monkey has conducted a survey of online adults (n=210) to explore U.S. attitudes toward search and online privacy. Eli Schwartz of Survey Monkey has written about parts of the survey on Search Engine Land: Right To Be Forgotten: Do Users Even […]

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In the wake of the the Right to Be Forgotten controversy in Europe, Survey Monkey has conducted a survey of online adults (n=210) to explore U.S. attitudes toward search and online privacy. Eli Schwartz of Survey Monkey has written about parts of the survey on Search Engine Land: Right To Be Forgotten: Do Users Even Care? This article looks at some of the other findings in the survey.

Question: What sort of precautions do you take to protect your privacy online?

Survey Monkey Privacy Survey

According to the data, consumers use a variety of strategies to protect their privacy: deleting web history, deleting cookies and password protecting devices so others’ can’t gain access. A little more than a quarter of respondents used their browsers’ incognito/private mode — medical, relationship-related and porn searches were cited as “embarrassing” by respondents — to avoid recording their histories. Roughly 27 percent avoided social networks entirely.

Question: How concerned are you that government authorities might have access to your web search history?

Survey Monkey Privacy Survey

Most respondents were only “moderately” or “somewhat” concerned about government access to their online browsing and search histories. This is interesting because the survey came well after the NSA surveillance revelations.

Question: If a search engine offered the right for any individual to permanently remove their name from any search results, how likely would you to be to take advantage of this feature?

Survey Monkey Privacy Survey

There was considerable interest in being able to delete or remove one’s name or identity from search results. A clear majority (74 percent) said that they would be “extremely likely” or “likely” to take advantage of such a feature or opportunity.

Question: Would you ever consider allowing access to your personal data in exchange for the use of a free Internet product?

Survey Monkey Privacy Survey

The conventional internet wisdom is that people are willing to trade personal data for free content or discounts and so on. Indeed, there are many surveys that indicate such a willingness. However, in this survey consumers overwhelmingly rejected such an idea.

If the question were phrased differently it might have elicited a different response. However it’s clear that these respondents are valuing their privacy quite highly.

Question: When you sign up for a new online service, how much attention do you pay to the term and conditions?

Survey monkey privacy survey

One of the most interesting findings to me, which confirms what many already know (and other surveys have found), is that consumers don’t read online privacy policies. In this survey, 62 percent said, “I quickly skim them.” However this response is probably an overstatement or “aspirational.” Nearly 30 percent said “I never read them.”

Asked to rank which of five prominent internet companies “care the most” about users’ privacy, Google was the winner, followed by Microsoft. Twitter was ranked lowest — curiously lower than Facebook. I say that because have been many more privacy scandals surrounding Facebook than Twitter.

Question: Rank in order of 1 – 5 which companies you think care the most about your privacy. 



Survey Monkey Privacy Survey


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About the author

Greg Sterling
Contributor
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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