Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Social Computing Privacy Concerns: Antecedents and Effects

(Comment left on: Kerry Barone's Blog)

Oded Nov - New York University Polytechnic Institute, New York NY
Sunil Wattal - Temple University, Philadelphia PA

Paper Link:

Nov and Wattal address how privacy features and concerns affect the amount of information sharing in social networks.

More specifically, they addressed how the "antecedents of privacy concerns" (individual privacy concerns, trust in other users, socially learned privacy concerns) affect the "impacy of privacy concerns on information sharing."

To this end, Nov and Wattal created several hypotheses:

-Internet privacy concerns are related to specific communities.

-Increased interaction with other members in the community negatively impacts amount of data shared.


The researchers took their hypothesis and contacted users of Flickr to take part in a survey. Those that accepted would fill out the survey and have their data monitored through an API. The amount of public photos was measured to indicate the amount of sharing and trust of information on the social network.

The results of the survey and study indicated that trust in other users and the networks information sharing norms had a negative effect on the amount of sharing that occurred and decreased the amount of public information that was shared.

They also found that privacy concerns lead users to implement more restrictive setting and share less data.

My Spill:

The team put forth multiple hypotheses about privacy and social norms which is interesting, but I feel like the research team really failed to delve into getting any real data out of any of their hypotheses.
They chased to many rabbits and ended up losing most of them.

The fact that they only studied the Flickr community is a little disappointing with all the different social networking sites out there.
The amount of data shared could vary tremendously depending on the website and the kinds of controls the site offered in data sharing and the perception of the general communities. I feel like if the study were conducted again in a network like MySpace versus facebook, that we could get some good comparative data.

(Like facebook users feeling more protected and sharing more information than myspace users or something like that)

I felt like the results the team did come up with were pretty obvious.

I'd like to see how different sharing/protection mechanisms on the same site would affect amount of data shared.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that their outcome wasn't the most interesting. They probably should have tried using Facebook as their source instead, but I wonder if they possibly had troubles with getting access to it.