U.S. Facebook users skeptical of site's privacy, longevity

With IPO just days away, survey shows that not everyone's hot for Facebook

As the hype over Facebook's upcoming IPO continues to grow, a new survey indicates that not everyone is confident in the social network's long-term success.

Half of Americans say Facebook is a passing fad, according to a poll by the Associated Press and CNBC released today. However, 43% argue that it has staying power.

"So the question is, is it Apple or is it Rubicks Cube?" said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "And it's a good question. I've talked to many fund managers who tend to be in an older demographic and they really don't get Facebook.

"So they may ask how can I invest in something I don't believe in and half of users don't either?" he added. "I don't think there's any question social networking is here to stay. The main question is, will it always be Facebook or is there something better right around the corner?"

The survey comes out in the midst of Facebook's IPO roadshow and just days before the actual IPO takes place. And while Facebook is always a hot topic, the furor over the social networking company has only escalated in the last several weeks.

Facebook executives are well aware of the mounting excitement.

Earlier today, news spread that the company had filed amended documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to increase the price range for its upcoming stock. The company boosted the price per share from the $29-to-$34 range to between $34 and $38 per share.

One conern among those not sold on Facebook's future: privacy.

According to the survey, which sampled 1,004 U.S. adults earlier this month, three of every five Facebook users say they have little or no faith that the social network will keep their personal information private. Only 13% trust Facebook to protect their information, and only 12% would feel safe making purchases through the site.

The AP noted that half of those who use the site daily -- Facebook's most loyal users -- say they would not feel safe making a purchase on the network.

The study also shows that 57% of Facebook users said they never click on the site's ads or on Facebook's sponsored content. About another quarter said they rarely do.

However, early this month, half of those surveyed said Facebook would be a good investment, even though many thought the company is overvalued. A third said the value is spot on.

Facebook has raised the price range of its stock shares just days before the company's highly anticipated initial public offering. Is Facebook's IPO overhyped?

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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