Uncool Data and Social Media Sharing

According to the Truth About Privacy study by McCann Worldgroup, U.S. consumer attitudes and behavior related to both data sharing and social media oversharing, have shifted significantly just within the last two years, but is most pronounced among teens, whose migration across social media channels reflects growing concerns about bullying in addition to evolving opinions about what's cool or not.

This quantitative research, conducted with 1,100 U.S. consumers aged 18+, and supplemented qualitatively with five group discussions with U.S. consumers aged 16-60 years old, found the following changes over the last two years:

  • The #1 privacy fear that increased significantly since 2011 is that the government will use people's personal data against them in some way
  • Companies considered to be the greatest threat and that are the least trusted with data are the Silicon Valley companies, such as Google and Facebook
  • What did not change is that banks are still the most trusted institution when it comes to using sensitive personal information properly

The latest study also uncovered concerns that have much more to do with a new consumer etiquette around what and how to share online.  Though "selfie” for example, may be 2013's dictionary word of the year, says the report, just under half of American under 34 say selfies are not cool. Similarly, reflecting that this is not just a young generational trend, 77% of people over the age of 35 consider posting frequent selfies on Instagram to be "uncool."

Nadia Tuma, Deputy Director, McCann Truth Central, says "… a new trend towards sharing… being more selective and exclusive… even among the teenage generation… the pendulum is swinging in the direction of more privacy… (it’s) “cooler” to be… not very searchable on Google…"

Laura Simpson, Global Director, McCann Truth Central, concludes that “… with social networks taking on a more dominant role in our lives… the challenge lies in maintaining a delicate balance between making yourself seem interesting without looking vain… "

Concerns about privacy, including bullying as a related aspect, are having a marked effect on youth migration patterns with regard to social media. Youth in the survey explained their migration from Facebook to Snapchat as being partly attributed to greater privacy (and therefore less bullying).

But bullying is only one thing defining currently accepted sharing and privacy practices with regard to social media. In addition to Bullying, these include avoiding Boring, Boasting, Begging and Brand behaviors as well.


  • Only 34% of people think posting routine activities as status updates on Facebook is cool
  • On the other hand, 64% of people think the less personal approach of frequently posting silly or funny articles on Facebook is cool


  • Only 35% of people think frequently "checking in" your location on Foursquare is cool
  • 63% of people think having a personal style blog that chronicles your daily outfits is uncool


  • 73% of people think adding people you don't know as LinkedIn connections is uncool
  • 72% of people think adding people you don't know as Facebook friends is uncool
  • 63% of people think defriending people who are not your "real" friends on Facebook is cool


The findings about the required balance between privacy and publicity extend to brand marketing behavior as well. Some of their actions are considered "bullying" by some consumers:

  • 66% of people think a brand using your content on their social media site without your permission is uncool
  • 57% of people think a brand calling you with an automated personalized message is uncool

For more about McCannTruth Central studies, please visit here.


1 comment about "Uncool Data and Social Media Sharing".
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  1. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, January 23, 2014 at 11:29 a.m.

    I'd be more nervous about answering a survey from a company named "McCann Truth Central" than Google or the government!

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