The survey was conducted using SurveyMonkey, which found respondents by blasting out emails to its pool of some 30 million users and luring them to fill out surveys, often by offering them a chance to win something. In other words, it’s not a tightly controlled, scientific, random selection survey you can use to make predictions about how the general populous thinks or acts. The people who filled out that survey more than likely had a special interest in privacy and an axe to grind. That makes them a wee bit different than your average Jane or Joe.
Hodder disagrees with me here; she says Customer Commons specifically asked SurveyMonkey to poll non-tech people. She says SurveyMonkey sent emails to 5,000 of its US members and cut the survey off when it achieved its target of at least 1500 responses. There was no inducement for filling it out, she adds.
The respondents also skew a bit toward relatively affluent college-educated men age 30 or older. Members of Generation Zuckerberg and the less Web-savvy public might have a different point of view on this. Hodder says they plan to release the raw data for the survey so OCD journalists like yours truly can pore over the differences, but it wasn’t available at blogtime.
Even if the actual number of people who lie or hide information is less than 92 percent, I'm sure it's still pretty darned high. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t lied on a Web form, or used a throwaway email address, at least once?
I see two big takeaways from this.
1. Most people do not implicitly trust Web sites and/or apps to treat their personal information with the respect and deference it deserves. And that’s a good thing – because you shouldn’t trust these sites and apps. Most of them have a vested financial interest in using and selling your data, one way or another.
2. People want control over their personal information. In these instances they can control it, and they do it by lying. In other cases, like Web tracking, they really can’t. Not without jumping through a lot of hoops, and even then not entirely.
This is the important bit: We should have control over our information. It should be easy. We shouldn’t be forced to lie in order to do it.
And that’s the truth.