Over the last few weeks, I have focused on many different items regarding emerging media that range from interactions online, to the ability to access information anywhere through mobile devices, to a wide variety of ways technology is utilizing Internet and connected capabilities in order to create a more personalized, accessible world for consumers and the millennial generation. All of these posts discussed the ways marketers could reach this generation digitally, and thus collect a lot of data about individuals in the process both singularly and collectively. However, none of this addressed what I consider to be the big elephant in the room: digital privacy.
I care a great deal about my privacy. While I am active on several different social media websites, I have taken great effort to either not provide personal information or to protect that information through different platforms’ various privacy settings. I am careful about what information I post, and I take great care to make sure what others post about me is something I wish to be seen (which I obviously have much less control over).
However, to older generations, I would probably appear to be in the minority when it comes to millennials. A quick Google search about privacy related to the generation will provide a pretty negative article or two or three regarding millennials’ seemingly complete disregard of digital privacy.
Are we careless? Are we too optimistic? Or has growing up with the Internet and technology helped us to better understand how to protect ourselves, thus lowering our overall concern level?
Truthfully, the answer is probably some combination of the three.
As the above chart reflecting results of a Gallop poll shows, when compared to other generations, millennials have more trust across the board when it comes to privacy and other institutions safeguarding that privacy. Some of those results do certainly seem to reflect a generation that is more optimistic than past generations.
However, having grown up around computers, and rapidly advancing technology, millennials have had a lot of experience with navigating a digital world that older generations cannot match. Sure, we have a lot more confidence in our Facebook privacy settings, but let’s not forget that millennials pioneered this platform. When Facebook started and was just for college students, we were mainly the generation (accounting for some nontraditional students) experimenting with it and learning about its potential.
The younger millennials might not have been the first users of the platform, but many of those individuals have never known a world without the Internet. They grew up with it. They experimented with it. They learned about it. Thus it should come as no surprise that many express great confidence in managing their online privacy. Millennials are not indifferent to privacy. Most of us are just already protecting it.
As our digital footprints continue to grow larger and larger, privacy will always remain a concern. Many might still argue that we are still not doing enough to protect ourselves and our private data, and that is a statement in which I truly agree. The onus should not be on brands to protect our data, but rather the onus should be on us to control the data to which brands have access. To some extent, it appears millennials are already doing this, but there are so many more ways in which we can improve.