Facebook users started sharing a lot more after the site modified its interface and default settings in 2009 and 2010—whether they realized it or not. A seven-year study from Carnegie Mellon researchers found that from 2005 to 2009, users were trending toward keeping more information private, a trend that reversed itself after the changes, the AFP reports. The researchers attribute that to user confusion. "While people try to take control of their personal information, the network keeps changing," one researcher says.
Facebook has offered users more choices about what they share and how they share it, and that "may increase members' feeling of control," another researcher says. But confusion led to "increases in disclosures of sensitive information to strangers." But Facebook dismissed the study, with a spokesman saying that "independent research has verified that the vast majority of the people on Facebook are engaging with and using our straightforward and powerful privacy tools." (Read more Facebook stories.)