Understanding Users' Privacy Motivations and Behaviors in Online Spaces
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Understanding Users' Privacy Motivations and Behaviors in Online Spaces

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I’ve spent my career so far studying the social outcomes people derive from their use of new communication systems like Facebook. These sites contain numerous affordances that differentiate them ...

I’ve spent my career so far studying the social outcomes people derive from their use of new communication systems like Facebook. These sites contain numerous affordances that differentiate them from other forms of communication & create low-cost environments for things like relationship maintenance and exchange of resources. I have found this research to be extremely rewarding, as it is important to understand how these social systems extend our capabilities for human interaction, beyond the more traditional forms of communication we have relied on previously.

But, there's a flip side to this story. Humans, by nature, are very social beings and want to interact, want to disclose information and share it with others. Social network sites and their like facilitate this through a variety of features. However, as individuals have moved their communication from offline spaces, where the interactions tend to be much more ephemeral and audiences are generally known, to online spaces, where the lines between public and private become much more blurred, I believe that thoughts of privacy of personal information are often lost in the novelty of the technologies. Now, as we begin to think about this issue more and more, I believe it’s time to step back and re-evaluate how we conceptualize our privacy in this highly networked world and to integrate that understanding into solutions that will help individuals become more savvy users of the technology.

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Understanding Users' Privacy Motivations and Behaviors in Online Spaces Understanding Users' Privacy Motivations and Behaviors in Online Spaces Presentation Transcript

  • Understanding Users' Privacy Motivations and Behaviors in Online Spaces Jessica Vitak College of Information Studies, University of Maryland Human Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) Brown Bag Talk | 3/27/14 jvitak@umd.edu | @jvitak @Norebbo
  • What words and images come to mind when you think of privacy? 2
  • Flickr: Ewan-M View slide
  • Flickr: paulk View slide
  • Flickr: fajalar
  • Flickr: boston_public_library 6
  • Flickr: sentience
  • Privacy should not be viewed as ALL or NOTHING but rather along a CONTINUUM 8
  • So how do we balance our desire for privacy with the desire to share personal information? 9
  • To understand privacy, context matters. 10
  • Privacy in context: Multiple European countries sued Google over Street View for perceived privacy violations 11
  • Selective self-presentation: We highlight certain aspects of our identities and minimize others; this varies based on audience (see work by Erving Goffman) 12
  • 13 The Facebook Effect: Context Collapse Paul Adams (2010)
  • Privacy Settings: Help or Hindrance? 14
  • 15 Source:MattMcKeon
  • 16 Source:MattMcKeon
  • 17 Source:MattMcKeon
  • 18 Source:MattMcKeon
  • 19 Source:MattMcKeon
  • 20 Source:MattMcKeon
  • To what extent can you shape your self- presentation in systems categorized by flattened networks? To what extent have these new social systems reshaped our understanding of & norms around privacy? 21 Flickr: eyemage
  • 22 Audience (Who comprises my network?) Disclosure (What do I disclose & with whom?) Privacy (What are my concerns about sharing? How do I manage my privacy?)
  • Study 1 (Vitak, 2012): The role of network composition and privacy on disclosure practices 23 AUDIENCE Network Size Network Diversity PRIVACY SETTTINGS H1 H3 H4 SOCIAL CAPITAL Bridging Bonding H5 H6 PRIVACY CONCERNS H2 Audience Size: # of friends Audience Diversity: # of distinct friend groups Privacy Settings: Use of Friend Lists feature (17% of sample) Privacy Concerns: concerns related to posting content Disclosures: -Amount: frequency of posting -Intentionality: conscious thought behind posting DISCLOSURES: Amount Intentionality
  • Study 1 (Vitak, 2012): The role of network composition and privacy on disclosure practices 24 AUDIENCE Network Size Network Diversity DISCLOSURES: Amount Intentionality PRIVACY SETTTINGS H1 H3 H4 SOCIAL CAPITAL Bridging Bonding H5 H6 PRIVACY CONCERNS H2 As networks grow larger and more diverse, users make more disclosures and those disclosures are characterized by higher intentionality.
  • Study 1 (Vitak, 2012): The role of network composition and privacy on disclosure practices 25 AUDIENCE Network Size Network Diversity DISCLOSURES: Amount Intentionality PRIVACY SETTTINGS H1 H3 H4 SOCIAL CAPITAL Bridging Bonding H5 H6 PRIVACY CONCERNS H2 As a user’s privacy concerns increase, the amount of disclosures decrease, and the conscious intention increases.
  • Study 1 (Vitak, 2012): The role of network composition and privacy on disclosure practices 26 AUDIENCE Network Size Network Diversity DISCLOSURES: Amount Intentionality PRIVACY SETTTINGS H1 H3 H4 SOCIAL CAPITAL Bridging Bonding H5 H6 PRIVACY CONCERNS H2 Users who employed Friend Lists to segment their networks were more intentional in their posts. Posts to Friend Lists were more honest, intimate, detailed, and sincere than updates to their whole network.
  • Study 1 (Vitak, 2012): The role of network composition and privacy on disclosure practices 27 AUDIENCE Network Size Network Diversity DISCLOSURES: Amount Intentionality PRIVACY SETTTINGS H1 H3 H4 SOCIAL CAPITAL Bridging Bonding H5 H6 PRIVACY CONCERNS H2 Users who employed Friend Lists had larger and more diverse networks than those who didn’t use Lists.
  • Study 2 (Vitak & Kim, 2014): Impact of FB Affordances on Disclosures & Privacy Practices User-Identified Goals Social approval Social Control Intimacy Identity Clarification Relief of Distress Digital Diary User-Identified Risks Social rejection Hurt feelings Reduction of integrity Loss of control Affordance-based risks 28 See Omarzu (2000) and Baxter and Montgomery (1996) for research on disclosure goals and risks.
  • Study 2 (Vitak & Kim, 2014): Impact of FB Affordances on Disclosures & Privacy Practices User-Identified Goals Social approval Social Control Intimacy Identity Clarification Relief of Distress Digital Diary User-Identified Risks Social rejection Hurt feelings Reduction of integrity Loss of control Affordance-based risks 29 See Omarzu (2000) and Baxter and Montgomery (1996) for research on disclosure goals and risks.
  • Study 2 (Vitak & Kim, 2014): Impact of Facebook’s Affordances on Disclosure Practices Risk Management Strategies 1. Network regulation 2. Targeted disclosures 3. Self-censorship 4. Content regulation 30 I’m communicating to people from all walks of my life, and I want to make sure that what I’m putting out there is appropriate for everybody that’s going to see it. And so I do have that moment of censoring everything before I put it to make sure, ‘Oh yeah, there’s these people seeing it.’
  • Study 3 (Vitak et al., under review): Balancing audience & privacy tensions on Facebook Conceptualizing “friendship” online. 31 Facebook network (range 82-1600) “Actual” friends (range 10-1000) What is a Facebook Friend? A known social connection. What is an actual friend?  Someone I’d have over to my house for dinner.  Communicates with more frequently.  Communicates with through a variety of channels.
  • Study 3 (Vitak et al., under review): Balancing audience & privacy tensions on Facebook Relationship between audience & privacy concerns. Two primary categories: 1. Concerns related to existing Friends (often managed by high self-monitoring) 2. Concerns related to audiences outside immediate network (e.g., potential employers) 32 “I’m very, very aware that whatever gets out cannot be brought back. It’s kind of a Pandora’s box. So I’m concerned that personal information that I would not want out in public would somehow get released.”
  • Where to next? People are wired to engage in reactive-based strategies when it comes to managing their privacy and self-presentation. 33 We need to reboot users’ cognitive processes around privacy & disclosure. Flickr: nixter
  • This is already underway… Privacy “nudges” help remind people of their options on various sites. 34 From Facebook’s Privacy Team – See Slate article by Will Oremus
  • …but more needs to be done. Our understanding of networked privacy is still limited. 35 Mental Framework for Understanding Privacy in Online Settings Influenced by: • Norms • Age • Other demographics • Network composition on given site • Privacy efficacy • Previous privacy-related experiences How We Act Online Includes: • What we disclose • Who we interact with • The sites we use • How we use those sites • If/how we engage with sites' privacy settings
  • …but more needs to be done. Extra attention needs to be paid to specific populations. 1. Young people (teens & pre-teens) 2. Older adults 3. Those with low media/computer literacy 36Flickr: jessycat_techie
  • …but more needs to be done. Focus on education & behavioral change. 1. Intervention focused on increasing digital literacy & privacy management knowledge. 2. Intervention focused on inducing behavioral change by reducing reactive privacy management in favor of more proactive behaviors. 37
  • Questions & comments are always welcome! Thanks! Jessica Vitak Assistant Professor, iSchool jvitak@umd.edu | @jvitak 38