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U.K. social media subscribers are limiting their networks: Ofcom

British subscribers to social networking sites such as Facebook are limiting to friends and family the people who can see their online profiles, according to a report released Monday by U.K. communications regulator, Ofcom.

In 2009, 80 percent of adults with a social networking profile allowed only friends and family to view their profiles, compared with 48 percent in 2007. That showed a greater attention to privacy online. At the same time, one-quarter of Internet users said they weren’t confident in installing filtering and security applications on their computers.

The findings are part of Ofcom’s Media Literacy reports, which reveal the U.K.’s media consumption habits and attitudes. And the report comes amid greater concern by U.S. and European regulators and lawmakers over how to protect consumer privacy on the Internet. Consumers are sharing more information than ever – posting pictures and videos online as well as detailed information about their employment and interests. All this information has become a trove for businesses who are trying to sell advertisements against targeted profiles of users.

When Facebook changed its privacy settings last December, the company said the number of users who customized their settings increased to 50 percent one month later compared to 20 percent before the change. The company, the world's largest social networking site, didn't specify how users changed their privacy settings.

Indeed, social networking has become a staple for many Internet users (35 percent versus 19 percent in 2007) in the U.K. Women between the ages of 25 and 34 were the fast-growing group of social network subscribers.

Here’s the full report.

By Cecilia Kang  |  May 17, 2010; 4:23 PM ET
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Next: Google deletes private data in Ireland; a complaint filed in U.S.

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