As part of our commitment to privacy on the web, the Mozilla Identity team is hard at work on Mozilla Persona, an identity system for the web. You can learn more about Mozilla Persona at our website or see it in action on OpenPhoto.
The Identity team wanted to know more about regular users’ feelings about privacy. We chose Facebook as a proxy, since it has such wide adoption here in the United States. We interviewed 8 Facebook users about privacy on Facebook. While 8 users cannot stand in for everyone, we did find some interesting patterns.
Participants also had low levels of awareness of and concern about what they were sharing when they logged into other sites with Facebook or played Facebook games. “Name. I’m guessing they can get my friends list. And anything on my personal profile I guess… which I need to double check to see what’s on there. It’s all hidden in a deep cave on Facebook” (Participant 2).
Some participants felt strongly that it was their job to police their own Facebook content: “I’ve told people: be careful what you’re putting on there… Think before you put it in there” (Participant 5).
For the most part, participants had not had their privacy violated by a site, and didn’t know anyone who had. Their biggest fears for privacy were around spam and popups.
All of our participants accessed Facebook on a computer shared with others. The good news is that most of them (6/8) knew that logging out of Facebook takes an explicit action. That is, you can’t just close the browser or tab that Facebook is on in order to logout. We will have to design specifically for the shared-computer use case for Mozilla Persona. How can we make the logout option explicit and easy to use?
A colleague will repeat this study a couple months from now in London. I am curious to learn whether Facebook user attitudes to privacy are similar in the UK.