Even though I have never been to CES\u2013that\u2019s not a complaint\u2013I know it is nothing more or less than thousands of shiny sales pitches parked in one place. If you want news about new products, this is the place to go. However, if you want information about other things\u2013say, what people think\u2013maybe not so much.\n\tThat\u2019s because CES does things like pass off the opinions of six people as though they were representative of anything:\n\t\n\t\t\u201cA group of consumer panelists shared their candid thoughts on online privacy during a tell-all panel discussion on Generation Y and digital media at CES. Six extremely articulate young adults ages 18 to 28 fielded questions from moderator Xavier Kochhar and the audience about their social media preferences and attitudes.\u201d\n\n\tThe conclusions:\n\t\n\t\tThis generation grew up exposing their lives on the Internet.\n\t\n\t\tThis has made them more aware of privacy issues.\n\n\tThe first is clearly inarguable, the second is where I think the group isn't all that representative. Consider:\n\t\n\t\t\u201cTess, like Jordan, is dutiful in managing her Facebook privacy settings.\u201d\n\n\tThat alone makes it a minority report.\n\tThere\u2019s also the fact that they\u2019re on a panel at CES. I am positive all six of these people are smart, thoughtful and pay attention to their online behavior. Who else would you want answering people\u2019s questions? Who else would be less representative of the general population?\n\tAnother problem with the panelists\u2019 answers is that they support the oft-repeated claim that privacy is the number one issue for Internet users. That claim is based on a lot of (well-done) interviews. However, here\u2019s the trouble with using opinion surveys on something like this: Behavior doesn\u2019t always match stated opinion. Even when it does the hugely different definitions of what privacy means makes the behavior itself questionable.\n\tIn 2009, researchers published a study in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication about Facebook users\u2019 awareness of privacy issues and what they actually did about it. More than 90 percent of the people said they were familiar with Facebook\u2019s privacy issues and 77 percent said they restricted their profiles through the site\u2019s privacy settings. However,\n\t\n\t\t\u201cOnly 69 percent of the respondents indicated that they had actually changed the default privacy settings and about half reported that they restricted their pro?le so that \u2018only friends can see it.' Importantly, the de?nition of \u2018friends\u2019 may be different in this case, as the relative majority of users (38 percent), have over 300 friends, followed by 24 percent with 200\u2013300 friends and 18 percent with 100\u2013200 friends. Additionally, 10 percent reported that they accept \u2018anybody\u2019 as a friend, 37 percent accept people \u2018heard of through others,\u2019 and 52 percent only accept people they personally know. Furthermore, over 90 percent of the respondents signed up under their full real name and included their gender, date of birth, and hometown. This same percentage of respondents also uploaded a picture of themselves as well as additional pictures of friends, family, pets, etc. Four-?fths of the participants speci?ed interests, favorite TV shows, music, and movies, ?eld of study, schools attended, and e-mail address on their online pro?le. About one-third provided speci?c contact information, such as phone number, address, and number of their house\/dorm and room.\u201d\n\n\tIf you paid really close attention to the CES panel you might have noticed the same thing:\n\t\n\t\t\u201cEighteen-year-old Jordan (there were three Jordans on the panel), who loves Tumblr and comic books, said the debacle compelled her to continue to avoid Instagram, which she wasn't really using before the incident.\u201d\n\n\tJordan is so outraged that she isn\u2019t going to use Instagram\u2013which she already wasn\u2019t using\u2013but she will go on using Tumblr, a service with an EULA that says it owns everything posted on the site.\n\tSo here are two things to remember about all this:\n\t\n\t\tThe plural of anecdote still isn\u2019t data.\n\t\n\t\tOpinions are useful but it\u2019s what people do that really counts.