LDS Technology: Why Are Flickr Users In And Near Utah Less Likely To Share Photos Publicly?

Today on the popular technology blog, TechCrunch, Michael Arrington posted the following map provided by Elizabeth Churchill, who he describes as the principal research scientist at Yahoo!.

Map - Flickr Photo Sharing by User Location

The map represents data gathered from the popular photo sharing website, which is owned by Yahoo!. Flickr allows users to upload their photos and make their albums public, so that the pictures may be viewed by anyone, or make them private, so that they may only be viewed by limited friends or family. The map shows the privacy settings for a sample of 1,000,000 users in 2005. Green spots show users who have chosen to make their photos public. Red spots represent users who have chosen to keep their photos private.

Arrington comments about what the map reveals:

The US is widely public except for users who seem to be hovering around Utah, and varies by state. Europe, by contrast, is largely private, and more so as you move north. The Middle East is wide open. South East Asia is mixed. India is private.
(emphasis added)

I would add that Arrington fails to notice that Hawaii is also more private though apparently not as much as Utah itself.

Of course, Utah has the highest concentration of Latter-day Saints in the U.S., so it is natural to wonder if their might be a correlation between the trend in Flickr privacy settings, and Mormonism or Mormon Culture?

Recently, Utah was rated as the most tech-savvy state in the nation, so perhaps the privacy simply reflects a better understanding of online security issues.

On the other hand, because the data is from 2005, it could mean the opposite—that Utah is slower than the rest of the nation in adopting the open, web 2.0 culture, and that more recent data would show less of a difference.

Another possibility is that the LDS concern for protecting their families from internet pornography causes them to have stricter control over Internet usage by minors, who would be the demographic more apt to share their photos publicly. Perhaps the LDS emphasis on Internet filtering has also increased awareness about internet predators, and so users are more cautious.

Politically, Utah is also one of the most conservative states in the Union, so maybe a tendency for paranoia about government conspiracies and privacy issues makes the people less likely to be open with their personal lives.

We could also speculate that Mormons already feel peculiar and expect criticism and scorn from others, and so they may feel less inclined to parade pictures of their unique beliefs and cultural quirks on the internet, where they could likely attract ridicule.

Perhaps there is some attribute of Utah culture that is shared by Hawaii, Europe, India, and Australia, that makes them more private. Or maybe they are all more private for different reasons.

It would be great to see a lot more data related to the subject. Perhaps Yahoo and other Web 2.0 companies will release additional, detailed studies about it. I hope so.

What do you think? Why would areas of the U.S. with high concentrations of Latter-day Saints be less inclined to share their photos with the public?

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