Nearly half of teens accept social media requests from strangers

Finding comes in report to mark International Data Privacy Day.

A man uses a smartphone in New York City, in this picture taken November 6, 2013 (photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
A man uses a smartphone in New York City, in this picture taken November 6, 2013
(photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
Nearly half of Israeli teenagers accept friendship or follow requests on social media from individuals that they do not know, according to a Privacy Protection Authority report published on Monday to mark international Data Privacy Day.
The government authority found that 48% of 14-17 year-olds approve requests from strangers, compared to 26% of adults aged 18-34 and 22% of those aged 35-55.
The report also revealed that the large majority of teenagers download smartphone applications without any regard to privacy policies, with only 21% stating that it was a consideration when downloading an application.
“This wake-up call is for all of us, we must sharpen the boundaries between the real world and the digital world, and question ourselves with every digital action that we take,” said Gili Basman Reingold, chief legal adviser to the Privacy Protection Authority.
“Social networks, applications and the web in general provide an environment with many opportunities for learning, development and for making connections, but at the same time it is important to be aware of the risks too. It is important that [teenagers’] personal information remains their own and not reach the wrong hands.”
The report also revealed that only 3% of teenagers regularly update their social media passwords, compared to 19% of 35-55 year olds.
Data Privacy Day, launched by the Council of Europe in 2006 and marked annually on January 28, aims to raise awareness about the rights to personal data protection and privacy through a range of campaigns targeting the general public and schools.
Seeking to boost the privacy of Israeli users, the Privacy Protection Authority launched this week an online guide offering data protection tips for a range of online media, including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Youtube and mobile video application TikTok.
Recommendations include opening a separate email account for downloading applications, setting social media profiles to private, not publishing personally identifiable information online, only accepting friend or follow requests from real friends, and regularly updating passwords and other privacy settings.