There’s an unfortunate myth that persists when it comes to youth and privac (at least in my opinion, based on research and findings I've read). While it’s fashionable to make broad claims that “youth don’t care about privacy”, there are credible studies that have been conducted by reputable researchers that show that youth do indeed care about privacy. Such findings do not mean that youth do not make the same careless mistakes that we all do and it's not too difficult to find examples of people, young and old, making a mistake when it comes to the use of social media or participating in social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
If we take the "oops" examples aside, what I've summarized is that there are
- A lack of media literacies (e.g., skills, competencies) when it comes to using social media
- A lack of awareness of the affordances offered by a social network site to limit one's "publicness" (e.g., not knowing that privacy controls are available)
- A result of actions (or inactions) taken by the provider of the social network site (e.g., provider changes lack notice and consent encouraging the revealing of information not meant for a broad audience)
- Actions taken by a trusted connection to make information "more public" than was originally intended (e.g., a friend tags you in a photo or checks you into a location)
My respectful disagreement with studies proclaiming "youth don't care" is that they promote a certain stereotype and often infer that people knowingly place themselves out there for everyone to see (a typical "Gen Y" caricature) - that there's a willful intent. Studies I've reviewed come to a different conclusion and that has been by position for some time now.
There are of course always examples of people behaving badly, purposefully disregarding policies or intentionally acting in ways that avoids expected behaviors – but generalizing that into a trend is a leap of faith that I have not seen supported enough in research. Surveys alone are often not deep enough and often reach superficial results depending on the way questions are phrased and who participates.
For your reference, I’ve read several studies that I rely on to support this line of reasoning re: youth do care about privacy but are not always private for reasons other than "intent":
A recent Pew Research study on Reputation Management and Social Media:
A Berkman study on Youth , Privacy and Reputation:
Social Privacy in Networked Publics: Teen's Attitudes, Practices, and Strategie
First Monday, a peer-reviewed research journal published an article on how people struggle with Facebook privacy settings:
ReadWriteWeb picked up on the study and summarized the findings:
The Office of Privacy Commissioners of Canada has also published information on the myth that youth do not care about privacy: