May 16, 2012 at 3:14 PM ET
We've long known more than a few Facebook users don't trustthe social network to keep their personal information private. We know this becauseeach and every time a new Facebook privacy kerfuffle hits the news, that'sall we talk about in our status updates ... on Facebook. You know, that socialnetwork we don't trust with our information. Now, a new AP-CNBC poll has the statistics to support our long-held supposition.
Sixty percent of the 1,004polled by AP-CNBC had a Facebook account — even though more than half of the respondents also said they "have little or no faith in the company toprotect their privacy," according to the poll, some details of which were shared Tuesday in msnbc.com's Business section.
Perhaps you think the lion's share of distrust belongs to those respondents who who don't use Facebook — after all, they made up 40 percent of the people polled. However, only 21percent of non-Facebook users claimed privacy concerns as their reason for notjoining the social network. And another 21 percent of the non-Facebook users saidthey "dislike it," perhaps for privacy reasons.
So it breaks down likethis: A large number of people who — voluntarily — put their personal information onFacebook claim that they do not trust the social network with their personal information. In fact, they trust Facebook a whole lot less than people who avoidit altogether. Maybe Facebook would worry about it's upcoming IPO if 59 percent of U.S. users quit the social network out of mistrust, but as the numbers reveal, nobody's going anywhere.
Here's what we're talking about:
A majority of Americans say they have a Facebook page (56 percent), up from 48 percent in a Gallup/USA Today poll last fall.
Very few people who use Facebook say they trust the site with their personal information.
Among those who do not have a Facebook page, 35 percent said they simply lack interest in it, preferring to spend their time on other activities.
So why are we still on Facebook if we don't trust it? Overt maladaptive narcissism? Versions of that delightful old chestnut populate much of the comments on msnbc.com's Market Day report on Facebook's public offering (the largest Internet deal in history, in case you somehow missed it.)
"Facebook is a testament to the inflated human ego," wrote one such commenter. "Yes I had an account and instead of network with friends I was blasted with endless idiotic posts about where people are having dinner. Every picture of their children ever taken and personal 'moonbeam' beliefs. Now I don't want to talk to a majority of people I once considered friends."
And according to another, "Facebook is absolutely the most useless space on the Internet. The fact that anything so ridiculous will be valued at billions of dollars shows how pathetic this society is rapidly becoming."
Hey, I'm as much a misanthrope as the next hermit, but I've seen enough to know we all don't fit the narcissistic personality disorder diagnosis. In a Red Tape Chronicles report on the social media divide, Alessandro Acquisti, an economist who studies privacy at Carnegie-Mellon University, told Bob Sullivan, "The privacy issue may be polarizing because the penalty for avoiding social networks is becoming more severe over time."
Acquisti continued: "Not having a mobile phone now would dramatically cut you off from professional and personal life opportunities. It's the same story with social networks."
We all are inevitably locked in, he says. "The more people use them for socializing and for their professional life, the more costly it becomes for others (who aren't members) to be loyal to their views."
One msnbc.com commenter weighed the cost and benefits, and like many, found it worthwhile. "I live in Europe, and my family is in the U.S., all over in fact. Not to mention the friends I have around the world. It is much easier for everyone who is important to me to be on one site, where I share information ONCE and its done. I am happy many of you seem to have so much time (and money) to individually email or call or visit all the people you care about in your life, but many of us don't."
Facebook. It's like every hinky relationship you've ever had — you sense something is up, but ultimately, you're not going to do a thing about it (until maybe it's too late). So consider the upcoming IPO like your couples counselor. Once the company goes public, every privacy investigation or court subpoena becomes a matter of public record. So your privacy may not be more secure, but at least Facebook will be held a bit more accountable for its behavior.