Social Networking and Online Privacy: Facebook Users’ Perceptions
DEIRDRE O’BRIEN* AND ANN M. TORRES**
ABSTRACT his study investigates Facebook users’ perceptions of online privacy, exploring their awareness of privacy issues and how their behaviour is inﬂuenced by this awareness, as well as the role of trust in an online social networking environment. A cross-sectional survey design is used. The sample frame is a network of Facebook friends; 285 survey responses were collected giving a response rate of 47.5 per cent. The study reveals over half of Facebook users have a high level of privacy awareness; however, an element of uncertainty is evident. Privacy concerns are prevalent especially relating to third parties’ access to Facebook users’ information. Over three-quarters of users have changed their privacy settings to tighter controls, prompted largely by privacy concerns. The most active period for change to privacy settings was 2010, reﬂecting a response to the controversy surrounding Facebook’s privacy approach. Only one-quarter of users trust Facebook, yet the majority of users believe both Facebook and users have an equal obligation to protect users’ information. Key Words: privacy; trust; social networking; Facebook INTRODUCTION The social networking phenomenon is consuming the lives of millions of users around the world. Since the inception of the ﬁrst social networking site, SixDegrees.com in 1997 (Boyd and Ellison, 2008), the social networking craze has grown beyond all expectations. Nielsen (2009) reports two-thirds of internet users are using social networking and blogging sites. The rate of adoption of social networking sites continues to grow as individuals search to become part of a virtual community, to share opinions and to connect and socialise with people of similar interests (Chaffey et al., 2009). Social networking users appear to be
Tourism Ireland Department of Marketing, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics,...