What kind of Internet user are you?

Are you an open sharer, a passive user, or a proactive protector? How and where you surf says a lot about how much you value privacy


I’ve always believed that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who think there are two kinds of people in this world, and everyone else.

It turns out I was wrong. There are actually five kinds of people – at least, five kinds of people on the Internet, according to a new survey commissioned by MasterCard. The credit issuer collected responses to more than 50 questions from 9,029 regular Internet users in nine countries, easily making it the largest such survey I’m aware of. 

Mind you, these folks aren’t like your brother in law who thinks the Internet is a fad and still uses a flip phone held together by duct tape. These are habitual Internet users who are online at least once a week and generally much more. According to the MasterCard Digital Sharing and Trust Project, they fall into one of five kinds of “social citizen,” split almost equally within the population.

Open Sharers: I don’t have to tell you who these people are, because you already know everything about them, whether you want to or not. Open sharers are younger (average age 32), college graduates (61 percent), own more smartphones (83 percent), use Twitter every day (45 percent), and are 99.7 percent more likely to annoy you with inane trivia about their cats. (That’s my interpretation, not MasterCard’s.)

On the other hand, open sharers are very aware of targeted marketing, expect to get something in return for sharing their data, and are more savvy than most when it comes to privacy.

Simply Interactors. These people think Facebook is the Internet, thus they spend all day posting inspirational sayings and cat videos to their walls. They are slightly older on average than Open Sharers, more likely to be female (55 percent), and about a third less likely to own a smartphone or a tablet. They are the least likely to hold a full time job (46 percent), probably because they spend so much freakin’ time on Facebook. 

Simple Interactors are much more savvy about social networks than the average user, but fall behind everywhere else, including awareness of data and privacy issues.

Solely Shoppers. Like the name implies, these folks are master bargain hunters, using the Net to compare prices against brick and mortar shops. Otherwise, they have little use for the Internet. Entertainment, news, social interaction? Meh. Just show them the deals.

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