According to the results of a recent poll commissioned by global VPN services provider ExpressVPN, social media presence and the drive for online fame trump digital privacy for the majority of ‘Gen Z’ respondents.
The survey was conducted by ExpressVPN and Pollfish and polled 1,500 Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 years old. It discovered that many in Generation Z, though concerned about their online privacy, are willing to give up personally identifiable information in exchange for social media fame.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents expressed concerns over their images being used for facial recognition engines, while 66 percent were wary of sharing more than the required amount of personal information to their social media accounts. Sixty-four percent said they use advanced security practices such as two-factor authentication.
However, despite these signs of privacy-awareness, 78 percent also said they would be willing to give up more of their private information if it were to result in greater social media fame, with 40 percent willing to do so to access new features before their general release.
“One of the most surprising findings is that even though Gen Z knows how social media corporations are mining personal data and selling it to third parties, they are still willing to disclose their most personally identifiable details in exchange for social media fame,” said Harold Li, Vice President, ExpressVPN. “An Instagram post or TikTok video might grant a few days of fame, but a third-party company’s access to your personal information can last forever.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a remarkable growth in cybercrime — with identity theft in particular seeing a dramatic rise — proportionate to the massive increase in online traffic spurred on by the rise in remote work and other lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Perhaps among the most alarming results of the survey was the discovery that while respondents are willing to give up personal information for online fame, they are just as reckless when it comes to their actual online behavior. A third of those who replied said they have purchased followers on social media, even though half of them knew the practice posed an increased security risk with a high likelihood of the followers being data-harvesting bots.