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Saturday, September 27 • 10:21 - 10:40
"Why We Share: How the Utility of Social Media Relates to Privacy"

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Background: Privacy concerns and privacy behaviors are related concepts, but paradoxically do not often correlate well (Reynolds, et al., 2011; Taddicken, 2014; Zafeiropoulou, et al., 2013). The contradiction between stated privacy preferences and actual privacy behaviors has suggested a willingness to trade privacy regulation for social goals (Ellison, et al., 2011) or for the convenience that these platforms bring to managing social relationships (Krasnova, et al., 2010). Though the uses and gratifications of social media platforms, and motivations for their use, have been well mapped by researchers (e.g., Chen, 2011; Park, et al., 2009; Quan-Haase, et al., 2010), how the social utility of these platforms intersects with a user’s privacy attitudes and actual privacy behaviors is only just now garnering attention. One study examined users’ willingness to trade privacy for monetary gain (Acquisti, et al., 2013), but further examination of other forms of privacy exchanges is warranted.  

Objective: This study examines the relationship between sociality, social media utility, and privacy in an attempt to explore the contextual dimensions of privacy regulation processes. The goal is to provide greater insight into how everyday privacy practices and concerns relate to social media use, and also to how the utility of social media platforms, such as gains in social capital and desire for entertainment, influence privacy producing behaviors.

Methods: A self-administered, web-based survey of approximately 450 social media users collected data on privacy concerns, online privacy strategies and behaviors, the uses and gratifications that social media experiences bring, and measures of social capital. Methods of statistical exploration included principle component analysis, canonical correlation analysis and regression.

Results: The data reveal that concerns about a loss of information control, the future life of information, and authoritarian misuse of information factor both into the use of technological measures for privacy protection and also the deployment of more socially-oriented content curation strategies. Social media use related to the acquisition of bridging social capital and facilitation of identity management processes is tempered by privacy concerns which relate to concerns for the future life of information and the potential loss of information control. Use of social media out of habit is associated with the use of social curation strategies as a privacy regulation focus; to a lesser extent, the use of social media with an entertainment focus is linked to the use of systemic controls in privacy management.

Conclusions: This study provides a better understanding of how various dimensions of social media use relate to privacy concerns and privacy management practices, and ultimately how the dynamic of privacy and sociality is understood and enacted by users, It adds to the growing base of literature on how sociality and privacy intersect through the use of social media, and how privacy concerns are mitigated through privacy producing behaviors.


Acquisti, A., John, L. K., & Loewenstein, G. (2013). What Is Privacy Worth? The Journal of Legal Studies, 42(2), 249–274. doi:10.1086/671754

Chen, G. M. (2011). Tweet this: A uses and gratifications perspective on how active Twitter use gratifies a need to connect with others. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(2), 755–762. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.10.023

Ellison, N. B., Vitak, J., Steinfield, C., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2011). Negotiating Privacy Concerns and Social Capital Needs in a Social Media Environment. In S. Trepte & L. Reinecke (Eds.), Privacy Online: Perspectives on Privacy and Self-Disclosure in the Social Web (pp. 19–32). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-21521-6

Krasnova, H., Spiekermann, S., Koroleva, K., & Hildebrand, T. (2010). Online social networks : why we disclose. Journal of Information Technology, 25(2), 109–125. doi:10.1057/jit.2010.6

Park, N., Kee, K. F., & Valenzuela, S. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. Cyberpsychology & Behavior : The Impact of the Internet, Multimedia and Virtual Reality on Behavior and Society, 12(6), 729–33. doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0003

Quan-Haase, A., & Young, A. L. (2010). Uses and Gratifications of Social Media: A Comparison of Facebook and Instant Messaging. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 30(5), 350–361. doi:10.1177/0270467610380009

Reynolds, B., Venkatanathan, J., Gonçalves, J., & Kostakos, V. (2011). Sharing ephemeral information in online social networks: privacy perceptions and behaviours. In Human-Computer Interaction–INTERACT 2011 (pp. 204-215). Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-23765-2_14.

Taddicken, M. (2014). The “Privacy Paradox” in the Social Web: The Impact of Privacy Concerns, Individual Characteristics, and the Perceived Social Relevance on Different Forms of Self-Disclosure. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(2), 248-273. doi:10.1111/jcc4.12052

Zafeiropoulou, A. M., Millard, D. E., Webber, C., & O’Hara, K. (2013). Unpicking the privacy paradox. In Proceedings of the 5th Annual ACM Web Science Conference - WebSci ‘13 (pp. 463–472). New York: ACM Press. doi:10.1145/2464464.2464503



Saturday September 27, 2014 10:21 - 10:40
TRS 1-129 Ted Rogers School of Management

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