The vast majority of consumers believe social networks should not be allowed to profit from their personal data, despite the fact that most concede they would be “devastated” if they lost their Facebook account.
In a survey of 5,000 people by technology startup SocialSafe, 64% said social media firms should not be free to use personal information and photos for profit while only 10% explicitly said they should be allowed to profit from users’ personal content.
Women feel most strongly about the issue, with 69% against sites profiting from their information, compared to just 60% of men. But, despite this unease, 40% said that they would be either “devastated or annoyed” if they lost their Facebook account.
The results raise the question of whether the advertising model the sites embrace is the most effective one, said Julian Ranger, founder of SocialSafe, which sponsored the research.
“It’s clear from these results that people in the UK are uncomfortable with the idea that social networking services could use their content for profit,” he said, adding that consumer may be more receptive if sites employed alternative business models, such as subscription fees.
The study follows Twitter reporting full-year losses of $645m this week, amid criticism it has yet to crack the advertising model, ad revenue growing by 121% year on year to $220m (£135m). Overall revenue grew to $665m (£408m) in the 12 months to 31 December, up from $317m (£194m) a year earlier.
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