More than a quarter of internet users are now estimated to be using privacy tools online to protect personal information being recorded.
A GlobalWebIndex report estimated that around 415 million people, 28 per cent of internet users, were using tools such as Tor to guard their online movements more closely, while 56 per cent of respondents said they felt the internet was eroding their personal privacy.
The study of around 170,000 internet users found that 11 per cent of user were using Tor, an anonymity software said to be on the radar of the NSA. Indonesia, Vietnam and India had the highest user uptake of anonymity tools.
The use of privacy tools in China suggested that the number of the population with access to Facebook and Twitter could be higher than previously thought. The study estimated that 34 per cent of the internet population in China were hiding their identities online, with 60 per cent of people doing so to use YouTube and 55 per cent looking to gain access to social networks.
GlobalWebIndex also offered insight into global social network behaviour. Facebook remained top in terms of audience at 1.1bn active users and countered recent claims that the social network was losing popularity among younger people.
However, the study showed that while sharing content was popular on Facebook, commenting on a brand and sharing brand videos was considered the least popular activity for users to engage in.
In November last year, head of brand propositions at YouTube Derek Scrobie said brands were lacking confidence when it came to embracing online video content creation.
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