Study finds social media privacy is largely determined by friends’ actions

A new study published in the Nature Human Behavior journal claims that an individual’s choices are merely a piece of a puzzle when it comes to preserving online privacy. According to scientists from the University of Vermont and the University of Adelaide, staying away from posting on Facebook and Twitter won’t make us anonymous due to the context provided by our friends' activity.

These findings make the importance of crypto techniques like Zero Knowledge Proofs and anonymized micropayments all the more important. It is wildly difficult to distance our "real" selves from online personae, and this study shows that it is only getting harder. 

"There's no place to hide in a social network," says Lewis Mitchell, one of the authors of the study. His team’s research, which analyzed over 30 million public posts from nearly 14 thousand users, found that gathering data from a person’s contacts could predict their subsequent tweets with near-perfect accuracy. A similar conclusion was gathered in situations where someone left, or never joined a social media platform—the data provided by a person’s friend circle could be used to gather “potential predictive accuracy” of their future activities.