Survey Reveals Americans Want More Control Over Their Digital Persona

Consumers Believe Their Online Identity is as Important as Their Offline Persona

Dec 14, 2010, 09:00 ET from Intelius

BELLEVUE, Wash., Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- As the sheer volume of personal information continues to grow online, consumers are seeking new ways to manage and control their own information.  In a new online survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Intelius, a leading information commerce company, 90% of U.S. adults surveyed said they want more control over the information that is available about them online.

In fact, because professionals, friends and colleagues routinely use websites and search engines to gather personal insight about them, 80% believe their online identity is now as important as their "offline" personal or professional reputation.  They recognize that some of the most personal details of their life are accessible online, and those records can have a profound impact on the way others view or judge them.

"We believe 2011 will be the 'Year of the Online Reputation,' because consumers are realizing how much information about them is online and that this information is impacting how others view them," said Prakash Kondepudi, Senior Vice President of the Consumer Services Business Division at Intelius.  "The Harris Interactive survey confirms what we are hearing from our customers, which is, controlling and managing their online information is becoming increasingly important to them."

The survey found a growing tendency among consumers to use the web as a resource for gaining insight into the people and businesses they associate with:  

  • 78% said they believe it is very important to look up information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to interact or do business with them;
  • 74% claimed they would most likely refuse to interact or do business with a person or company if they found negative information about them online;
  • 69% stated that they would be much more likely to interact with someone on a personal level if they found positive information about them online;
  • Compared to this time last year, 43% of women said they are now more aware of the information that exists about them online, compared to only 38% of men who say the same; and,
  • 63% said they believe they should check their online information every 6 months or more, but 27% admit they have not done this.

"The Harris survey found that 40% of consumers are more aware of their digital footprint today than they were this time last year," said Jim Adler, Chief Privacy Officer at Intelius." But that awareness comes with concerns about the lack of controls available to manage it. We're realizing that as society grows more comfortable using the web to learn about each other, our public records, data, photos, videos, and blogs may paint a picture that is less than safe, accurate or flattering."

As a leading provider of people and background search, Intelius plans to be among the first to provide its customers with the tools necessary to monitor, manage and control their online profile. Last week, the company launched a beta version of TrueRep,, a new subscription service to test consumer awareness. TrueRep provides consumers and small businesses with full transparency to public information that is associated with them, and deliver the tools necessary to influence how others see them online.


This survey was conducted online within the United States between November 18 – 22, 2010 among 2,104 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive on behalf of Intelius via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Where appropriate, this data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


Intelius is a leading information commerce company providing businesses and consumers with information to empower the decision-making process for peace of mind and security. To date, Intelius has gained more than 12 million unique customers who use Intelius' information to reconnect and protect their loved ones, businesses and assets. Intelius has 30 million unique users visiting its sites each month.  Intelius' services include background checks, people search services, comprehensive employment screening services and an award-winning identity theft prevention product, IDProtect™. Intelius is one of the top 100 most trafficked sites on the Internet, according to comScore/Media Metrix.  For more about Intelius' business, news and policies, visit

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SOURCE Intelius