When it comes to privacy, we’re all just pretty little liars

More than 90 percent of people lie about their personal information online, according to a survey by Customer Commons. And who can blame them?


Don’t look now, Internet, but your pants are on fire.

It seems savvy Netizens have a very simple and effective strategy for dealing with Web sites or mobile apps that ask them for too much personal information: They lie.

A new survey by a public interest group called Customer Commons reveals that an astounding 92 percent of us are perfectly happy to fib, evade, decline, or otherwise prevaricate when asked to cough up information like our names, birthdates, email addresses, and friends.

The big data points here:

* Roughly 60 percent of survey respondents avoided giving out their real email address, street address, or birth date. That bumps up to more than 70 percent for phone numbers and friends lists.

* About a third have provided a fake name, email, birthday, or phone number to a site or app.

* Only about 25 percent say they withhold or fake information often or every time they create an account. Nearly 20 percent say they never lie or withhold information (unless, of course, they were lying when taking this survey).

The number one reason for faking it: Nearly 70 percent say they didn’t know the site or app well enough to share, or the site/app didn’t really need the information. About half said they were trying to keep their personal information out of the hands of marketers. And between 1 and 3 percent provided fake info to hide from family members or friends. (You know who you are.)

There’s good news for site and app providers too: Once people get comfortable with a site, about 40 percent of them will usually go back and correct the fake information they provided initially.

Customer Commons blogger Mary Hodder wrote:

The amazing thing is 92% hide, lie, refuse to install or click, some of the time. We surveyed 1704 people, and had an astonishing 95% completion rate for this survey. We also had 35% of these people writing comments in the “comment more” boxes at the bottom of the multiple choice answers. Also astonishingly high.

People expressed anger, cynicism, frustration. And they said overwhelmingly that the sites and services that ask for data DON’T NEED it.  Unless they have to get something shipped from a seller. But people don’t believe the sites. There is distrust.  The services have failed to enroll the people they want using their services that something necessary is happening, and the people who use the services are mad.

That’s the sugar; now for the salt. There are two big caveats about these numbers.

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