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Millennials May Dump Social Media if Privacy Breaches Continue

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With the revelations of data snooping and privacy violations by government agencies, clandestine hacker groups and supposedly trusted telecommunications companies accelerating, a new report suggests Generation Y, 18 to 34 year olds, is starting to have “buyer’s remorse” regarding the amount of social media accounts into which they’ve poured the intimate details of their lives.

A new study reveals that an overwhelming majority said they are “somewhat likely” to deactivate personal social media accounts.

USA Network on Wednesday premiered their new hit series “Mr. Robot” that follows computer whiz Elliot Alderson who, while working for the cyber-security firm Allsaf, decides to hook up with a group of vicious rebels that wants to take down the mega-conglomerates who secretly rule society and enslave us all with debt and consumerism.

The Christian Slater drama — described as a “digital samurai story” by The Verge‘s Russell Brandom — is a huge success for the network, winning awards and recognition from South by Southwest and the Tribeca Film Festival well in advance of its TV debut.

The USA Network commissioned a survey titled “Nation Under A-Hack” to measure millennials’ fears regarding hacking and cyber-crime.  The study revealed that 55 percent of Gen Y would stay away from social media entirely “If they could start fresh.” If major breaches of privacy continue, 75 percent of young people said they were at least “somewhat likely” to deactivate their personal social media accounts, while 23 percent said they were “highly likely” to do so in the future.

The survey confounds the generally accepted data compiled by Statista last year that found Gen Ys were only somewhat concerned about social media personal privacy. Statista found that only 27 percent worried about personal identifying information, such as vacation plans, work info, etc. being used against them; 25 percent worried only if information was used against them; 21 percent did not put personal information on the Web; and 23 percent were not worried at all.

But in the last year, there has been an onslaught of new WikiLeaks revelations about NSA hacking anti-virus software on personal computers, cyber-thieves penetrating Target and Home Depot credit cards, Verizon and AT&T engaged in unauthorized use of a “supercookie” to track and sell mobile customer Web activities. According to Ponemon Institute, 432 million web users were illegally hacked in the last 12 months. For the US, 47 percent of all adults, 110 million, had their personal information exposed.

USA Network survey found that Generation Y 18 to 34-year-olds are going retro by turning to off-line paper files and “brown box” physical filing systems for key data storage. Gen Y rated off-line storage of data as most secure with a score of 6.54 in a scale of 0 to 10. Their highest on-line security ratings were bank account at 6.22; hard drives at 6.20, personal computer at 6.03; medical records at 5.98. Gen Ys rated physical file boxes at almost twice as safe as the cloud.

When asked USA Network researchers to describe the next cataclysmic world-changing event, a stunning 86 percent of 18 to 49-year-olds answered they believed it will be digital. More Americans today are concerned with cyber-war, 53 percent, than traditional war, at 47 percent. Despite this concern for cyber-safety, 43 percent of 18 to 49-year-old Americans use sign-in passwords that are “mostly the same or close variations of one another,”while 76 percent of parents have not bought child protection software.

According to the USA study, Gen Y is increasingly concerned that they are being controlled by civilian hackers — more so than by traditional corporate leaders. Fifty-four percent of Americans say civilian hackers have more power than the government, financial institutions, or the Web “Big 5” of Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon. Gen Xers and Ys believe “rogue hackers” are 2.5 times more dangerous than “the mob” and twice as dangerous as ex-convicts.

A stunning 82 percent of Gen Xs and Ys believe the US Constitution needs amending to include people’s rights to online and digital privacy. They are joined by 88 percent of all American adults that agree “Personal security and privacy no longer exist in the digital world.” Over three quarters of adults are now more concerned about digital privacy than they were just a year ago, but 68 percent believe they have no choice in making their personal information available online if they want to use digital tools they really need.


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