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Half of britons now concerned about their online image

  • 1 in 4 Britons concerned about what others post online, 1 in 3 participants have regretted posting material
  • Personal websites offer greater control over online image

Nearly half of British consumers (49 per cent) admit to having concerns about how they appear online as a result of personal material placed on the Internet, according to research released today by Fasthosts Internet Ltd, (www.fasthosts.co.uk), the UK's number one web hosting company. From those who actively publish personal material online, an alarming 79 per cent admit to now having concerns about their online image. The survey of 1,500 UK consumers also found that 62 per cent of Britons now believe there to be personal material relating to them online, with 1 in 4 people (25 per cent) worried about what others may be posting about them. 1 in 4 (25 per cent) of us now routinely "Google" new people we meet socially. Another survey of 300 people who publish their own personal website, as opposed to just social networking, found that 84 per cent of those believed this offered more control over their online image, and 70 per cent saw their website as providing a better impression than social network.

The 'Fasthosts Online Identity Survey' found that around half of the British public now has some degree of concern regarding the issue of 'online identity'. Significantly, the majority of Britons, 62 per cent, now believe there to be personal material relating to them (such as photos, blog entries, Facebook profiles) on the Internet. 1 in 4 (25 per cent) people surveyed had a specific concern that what others may be publishing may have a negative effect on them. Of those who regularly post personal material online, more than 1 in 3 (35 per cent) have regretted posting one or more items.

Whilst publishing material online is highly popular and enjoyable, some 42 per cent of Britons surveyed recognised that the online image it creates for an individual is something that needs to be carefully managed. The extent of alarm varies according to gender, with 47 per cent of women seeing a clear need to manage identity, in contrast to only 33 per cent of men. The level of public concern on the issue of online material mirrors how heavily Britons now use the Web for researching others.

Around 1 in 4 of those surveyed (24 per cent) admit to browsing the Internet in search of material relating to people they meet socially. Interestingly, on a regional level, a staggering 41 per cent of those from Belfast regularly research people they meet, compared to only 10 per cent in Leeds. Overall, 9 per cent of Britons regularly search both potential romantic suitors and new work colleagues.

Our fears also reflect the swiftness with which Britons judge those they see online. Significantly, 47 per cent of the public have made a judgment on at least one individual based solely on their online personal material. Unsurprisingly, this rose to 78 per cent in those under 25 years of age, who in general spend more time on social networks.

More than 1 in 3 people surveyed (37 per cent) believe that it is possible to make a reliable overall assessment of a person from their personal online material. The need for prudence when publishing personal material can be seen from just how quickly we judge those we see online. Some 29 per cent of those surveyed admitted to regularly judging people online 'quickly'.

However, it is not all bad news when it comes to how we manage our online image or identity. A further survey of 300 people who publish their own personal website as opposed to just a social networking page, found that 84 per cent felt significantly more in control over their online image using this medium.

Some 71 per cent of people using a personal website, linked to the Internet with their own domain name, believe that their website has given them a favourable online image, and 67 per cent viewed their resultant online image to be overall representative. Significantly, 70 per cent stated that their website has created a more favourable overall online image for them than a social networking page could. Furthermore, 79 per cent of personal website owners were happy to recommend the tool as a means of creating or changing an individual's online image or identity. The research lends weight to the argument that personal websites can be a useful means to generate or make modifications to an online identity.

Mark Jeffries, CTO of Fasthosts Internet Ltd said, "Today, the issue of online identity is clearly a concern for the British public. With it now being commonplace to search individuals online, one should take care to present their own personal online material carefully and keep an eye on their online image accordingly".

Individual personal websites appear to be highly sociable just like social networking, with the average owner being contacted by 11-15 new people per year, and 21 per cent being approached by 50+ new people per year. Of these personal publishers, 65 per cent view their websites as an enjoyable activity, and over three quarters (76 per cent) believe it has made a positive contribution to their lives. In relation to social networks, 68 per cent of personal site owners valued their own sites as allowing more creativity and only 26 per cent suspected that a social networking page could be more communicative.

Jeffries added, "With the right approach, personal publishing is an enjoyable and effective way to interact with the world. Our research highlights that personal websites in particular appear to offer a high level of control over online image, and can allow this to be modified effectively."

As the UK's number one web host, Fasthosts offers a comprehensive range of web solutions including web hosting with inclusive Blog tool & easy to use SiteBuilder for creating a web presence with ease. Further Fasthosts products include domain name registrations, email solutions (including mobile email services), shared web hosting, dedicated servers, online payment services, reseller web hosting, software-as-a-service and feature-rich broadband packages. For more information on Fasthosts, see the website at www.fasthosts.co.uk

Press contact
Richard Stevenson   +44 (0)1452 561857   press@fasthosts.co.uk

About Fasthosts

Fasthosts is the UK's largest independent hosting company. Based in the UK, and operating 24 x 7 from their dedicated web hosting data centre, Fasthosts keep over 800,000 internet domains running smoothly ensuring over 4 million emails are delivered safely each day. All Fasthosts services can be self-managed through the unique Fasthosts web-based control panel enabling customers to set up and manage new web sites, email accounts, databases, and other hosted services online. For more details please visit: www.fasthosts.co.uk

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