updated 5/2/2012 11:49:20 AM ET 2012-05-02T15:49:20

Eighty-four percent of people worry a social networking site will steal or misuse their personal information, according to a new survey conducted by the security firm Avira.

One-quarter of the 2,710 respondents polled said they fear Facebook will improperly use their data; Google+ came in second, with 19 percent of respondents worried how Google's relatively new social media platform will treat their information. Only 2 percent of people admitted to fretting over Twitter's handling of their information.

The largest group of respondents, 40 percent, confessed a general fear of the data-security practices of all three networks — Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, Avira said. Only 14 percent of the worldwide respondents said they feel safe using social media sites.

[3 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy Now]

The online survey was presented to Avira's more than 100 million customers worldwide during January and February 2012.

"This survey was very interesting because it demonstrated that even though social media sites are very popular among the general population, computer users from all over the world have the same concerns," Avira data-security expert Sorin Mustaca said.

The general social-networking public has a right to worry how sites like Facebook and Google+ are treating their personal data: In the past year, there have been several widely publicized cases in which social networks, and third-party apps tied to them, have been found improperly sharing or leaking customer's data.

Mustaca recommended people remove their private data — phone numbers, email and home addresses — from social media sites. "Never forget that as soon as any information is published on a public website, it doesn't actually belong to you anymore," he said.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved


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