People strongly oppose private companies monitoring their actions online, despite 65% using social media to spy on others according to Vision Critical research

Over half (61 per cent) of respondents to a recent study carried out by Vision Critical said they felt they had no say in what happens to their information online, with 91 per cent of those surveyed opposing to their email provider scanning the content of their emails.

65% said the majority of their time spent on social media was passed monitoring the actions of others

The survey of 3,000 people in the UK, US and Canada showed that people worried about protecting their own personal information online, so much so that 38 per cent had purposely given false information to marketers and 69 per cent had refused to give information to a business because they thought it was not needed.

The majority of those taking part were found to be unhappy with governmental bodies and police services being able to monitor them online, with 64 per cent opposing police or intelligence services scanning their emails and 60 per cent saying that laws aimed at protecting national security were intrusive upon personal privacy.

A number of app functionalities were also found to be unfavourable amongst the respondents with 74 per cent opposing apps that allowed brands to understand their shopping habits and 78 per cent opposed to apps that would allow local and regional governments to follow their travel habits. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) even said they would not download an app that would enable them to connect with nearby friends, events or businesses.

However when it comes to work, 58 per cent said it was fine for employers to monitor employees emails and 53 per cent said it was fair to monitor what members of staff post on their personal social media accounts such ad Facebook and Twitter.

Despite worrying about their own information being exploited by government services and brands, the survey revealed that people enjoyed exploring the personal information of others, with 65 per cent of those surveyed claiming to spend the majority of their time viewing other people’s information on social media.

The majority of people also revealed they were motivated to use social media to monitor the actions others, with 59 per cent of social media users claiming that one of their reasons for using a site was to see what other people were doing. 61 per cent said that they believed if people were aware of what they were able to find out about them through social media they would be unhappy or embarrassed about it. A third (33 per cent) said they found it fun to check out people’s personal details online without them knowing about it.

Andrew Grenville, chief research officer at Vision Critical, says brands need to look upon the collection of data as a partnership, and go further than simply providing tailored content. “People are quite happy to talk to you and share experiences if they feel they are a partner and there is a discussion going on, but if it is all one-sided and they feel companies just take from them, and that it’s not really an open dialogue, there is a sense that it is just theft.”

Though the majority of respondents (71 per cent) said it was ‘fair game’ to search and view information on social media, 56 per cent said they made sure to read online privacy policies to help prevent unauthorised use of their data. 28 per cent had refused to give information to a government agency and 73 per cent had asked to be removed from marketing lists.

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