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One in four EU citizens avoids sharing personal information on social media

A Eurostat survey conducted in the latter half of 2019 for the use of IT technologies in household and individual consumption shows that one in four EU citizens avoids sharing personal data over social media for security reasons.

Skopje, 21 January 2020 (MIA) – A Eurostat survey conducted in the latter half of 2019 for the use of IT technologies in household and individual consumption shows that one in four EU citizens avoids sharing personal data over social media for security reasons.

This survey encompassed people between the ages of 16 and 74 and was related to safety issues concerning any kind of smart device.

Around 44% of EU citizens aged 16-74 stated that they’ve limited their private internet activities over the last 12 months due to safety concerns.

Generally, data abuse fears are stronger in Western countries, whereas Eastern Europeans are more lax about the dangers online.

Self-censorship in individuals appears most often when they are asked to reveal personal information on social or professional networks.

According to this research, Macedonians are most reserved when it comes to online shopping. 19% said that they avoid online shopping because they’re afraid of being scammed. On the other hand, only 4% of people are concerned about scams when it comes to downloading software, apps, music, videogames, or other data.

One in ten citizens of North Macedonia says that they do not use online banking and public Wi-Fi networks due to the fear of misuse of data, contrasted against one in five German citizens afraid to use online banking, and one in three Dutch citizens is afraid to use public Wi-Fi networks.

From most to least concerned about online safety: France, the Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland

According to the EU-wide research, people online are most reserved about revealing personal information on social or professional networks. The second most avoided activity is using public Wi-Fi networks, followed by downloading software, apps, music, videogames etc, online shopping, and online banking.

37% of Dutch residents are afraid to use public Wi-Fi networks, as well as 29% of Spanish and 25% of French residents, contrasted against only 4% of Greek citizens, and 3% of Bulgarian and Croatian citizens. EU-wide, the average is 19%.

40% of French citizens, 39% of Dutch citizens and 37% of Finnish residents are most reserved about sharing personal info on social or professional networks, as opposed to Lithuanian citizens, where only 6% of citizens are reserved about sharing personal information, 8% of Bulgarian citizens and 9% of Croatian citizens. EU-wide, the average is 25%.

21% of German citizens, 20% of Spanish citizens and 18% of Czech citizens are most reserved about using online banking services. Only 2% of Bulgarians, 3% of Latvians and 4% of Croatians are concerned about this, however.

When it comes to online banking scams, Czech citizens are the most concerned. EU-wide, the average is 13%.

30% of French citizens, 25% of Swedish citizens, and 24% of Spanish citizens avoid online shopping, whereas only 3% of Bulgarian citizens, 7% of Polish citizens and 8% of Hungarian citizens do the same.

38% of Finnish citizens, 28% of Spanish citizens and 27% of Dutch citizens are most reserved about downloading software, apps, music, videogames etc. Contrary to this, only 3% of Bulgarian and Polish citizens, and 4% of Croatian citizens are concerned about their online safety when it comes to this. The EU-wide average is 17%, representing the third highest concern when it comes to online safety.

Phishing and pharming

1% of EU citizens have suffered financial losses as a result of personal data theft, false messages or redirecting towards fake websites, the Eurostat data shows.

In 2019, 34% of EU citizens reported having safety issues due to personal internet usage in the last 12 months.

26% of EU citizens reported having received false messages, asking them to give out their private information, such as their e-mail or online banking username and password. This is known as phishing. Norway has been hit the hardest with phishing scams, with a whopping 59%, followed by 45% in Denmark and 39% in France. Only 8% of internet users in North Macedonia have been phishing victims.

In total, 13% of EU citizens have been redirected to fake websites asking them for personal data, and this is known as pharming. 30% of Norwegian citizens, 26% of Maltese citizens and 25% of UK citizens have been pharming victims. In contrast to this, only 2% of Bulgarian citizens, 3% of Latvian citizens and 4% of Czech citizens have reported pharming incidents. In North Macedonia, 7% of internet users have been pharming victims.

Other issues related to internet safety are: fraudulent credit or debit card usage – 3%, losing computer data due to a computer virus – 3%, and e-mail and social network hacking – 2%. One percent of EU citizens stated that they’ve been subjected to discrimination, insults and mobbing due to online identity theft or data abuse.

Eurostat’s research shows that 68% of Macedonians use the internet for social media, whereas the EU average is 57%. Around 65% of the surveyed people stated that they use the internet for voice or video-chatting, and 45% stated that they use it for health-related information.

At least 15% have stated that they use the internet for online banking, whereas the EU average is 59%. Over 90% of Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and Finnish citizens use the internet for online banking.

Aleksandar Atanasov

Translator: Dragana Knežević

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