I would like to introduce myself as a new member of Forrester Data’s data science team. Before joining Forrester, I studied economics at McGill University, where I developed a skillset in quantitative analysis and knowledge of the incentive-driven behaviors fueling today’s consumer-driven economy. I am excited to utilize what I’ve learned in my studies to research consumer behavior at Forrester.
Being a Gen Zer, I must admit that I am a social media addict. My ritual starts each morning by scrolling through Instagram before leaving my bed, followed by a Facebook check while brushing my teeth. Naturally, the recent Facebook scandal made me reflect on my Facebook use and wonder if I should cut down or even stop using Facebook altogether. While the thought was fleeting and my social media usage continued like clockwork, it did inspire curiosity that led me to explore Forrester Data’s Consumer Technographics North American Online Benchmark Surveys, 2018. I homed in on Facebook’s heaviest users, seeking a better understanding of these consumers and their use of the social media platform. What I found was a dramatic contradiction between their attitudes toward online privacy and their actual behaviors.
Before exploring those attitudes and behaviors, it’s useful to know who we are talking about. Our data shows that 21% of US online adults report using Facebook constantly, and 61% report using it at least daily. This is a massive segment of the population. And the heaviest users aren’t all Millennials: While 33% of those who use Facebook constantly are below the age of 29, 38% are 40 or older. Women are more represented in this group than men: 61% of those who report constant Facebook use are female.
This snapshot of Facebook’s heaviest users reveals several interesting characteristics. These aren’t marginal consumers — they represent just over a fifth of the US population. They come from all age groups, not just younger generations. And, most interestingly, they report a high degree of concern about and awareness of online privacy issues despite behaviors suggesting the opposite. This contradiction between their concerns about online privacy and their behaviors regarding it is being tested to its limits by the latest Facebook scandal. But how long can this situation go on? Will Facebook users soon wake up and act on their concerns for online privacy? Only time will tell, but we will continue to monitor and analyze what Facebook users do over time.