This research investigates privacy attitudes and behaviors in online social networks (OSN). For this purpose, two separate studies were conducted. Study 1 employed the theory of uses and gratifications to identify the motives for using OSN. Surveying 918 OSN users and employing the content analysis method, the predominant motives for using OSN were identified as: 1-relationship maintenance; 2-entertainment; 3-relationship building; and 4-information seeking. Study 2, inspired by the framework of Smith, Dinev, & Xu’s (2011), investigates both the antecedents to and outcomes of privacy concerns. Survey data were collected from 521 OSN users. The results of regression analysis suggested that the motives for OSN use do not serve as antecedents of privacy concerns. Minimal impact of the motives on privacy concerns indicated that the degree of users’ concerns for privacy is not related to the reasons why people use OSN. The findings also showed that privacy concerns did not inhibit self-disclosure, whereas the motives fostered it. No dichotomy was observed between privacy concerns and the use of privacy protective measures. Overall, the findings regarding the outcomes of privacy concerns indicated that privacy concerns align with privacy behaviors; therefore a privacy paradox or inconsistency between privacy attitudes and behavior was not supported.
Social networking in the online sphere has become ubiquitous and part of many users’ daily life. Statistics from Facebook, for example, indicate that the social networking website had an average of 1.37 billion daily active users in September 2017 (Facebook, 2018). One of the unintended consequences of using OSN is the threat to information privacy such as: “unwanted contact and harassment, vulnerability to stalkers or pedophiles, use of private data by a third party, hacking, and identity theft” (Wilson, Gosling, & Graham, 2012, p. 212). Becoming a victim of cyber-bullying is also a potential repercussion of information privacy violation in OSN settings. Being cyber-bullied through OSN, especially for adolescents, can be very distressing and can lead to social isolation and even suicide (Hood & Duffy 2017; Ochoa et al. 2011). The findings from a study by Fogel & Nehmad (2009) suggested that OSN users generally exhibit higher risk-taking attitudes (providing personal information such as phone numbers and home addresses) in comparison to individuals who do not use OSN. Acquisti & Gross (2006) discovered that non-Facebook users had higher than average privacy concerns. Moreover, it is believed that disclosing personal information is more frequent in OSN compared to offline communications (Nguyen, Bin, & Campbell, 2011). It can, therefore, be assumed that users’ privacy attitude in OSN is related to the motives for or the gratifications they obtain from using OSN. The impact of OSN gratification/motives on a variety of subjects such as religiosity (Nyland & Near, 2007), unwillingness to communicate in real life (Sheldon, 2008a), offline political and civic participation (Park, Kee, & Valenzuela, 2009), OSN addiction (Masur, Reinecke, Ziegele, & Quiring, 2014; Sofiah, Zobidah, Bolong, & Nizam, 2011), social capital (Papacharissi & Mendelson, 2011), continuance of intention to use OSN (Chiu & Huang, 2015; Ku, Chen, & Zhang, 2013; Hsu, Tien, Lin, & Chang, 2015; Oliveira & Huertas, 2015), has been examined. However, the effect of the motives for OSN use on information privacy concerns has been little studied. This is one gap we seek to address in this paper. In addition, previous research on information privacy concern suggests that the concept is a multidimensional construct (Smith, Milberg, & Burke, 1996). Measuring different dimensions of information privacy concerns increases our understanding of privacy attitudes in OSN settings as we can measure to what extent users are concerned about different aspects related to their information privacy. However, the conceptualisation and measurement of information privacy concerns in OSN literature is overgeneralised as most studies (e.g. Acquisti & Gross, 2006; Christy, Zach, & Tommy, 2015; Heravi, Mani, Choo, & Mubarak, 2017; Kim, 2016; Krasnova, Kolesnikova, & Guenther, 2009; Krasnova, Spiekermann, Koroleva, & Hildebrand, 2010; Tufekci, 2008; Zlatolas, Welzer, Heričko, & Hölbl, 2015) have examined it as a single dimensional construct. Inspired by Smith, Milberg, & Burke (1996), therefore, this study examines information privacy concerns in four dimensions: Collection, Errors, Improper Access and Unauthorized Secondary Use. The discordance between self-reported privacy concerns and actual privacy behaviors, or “privacy paradox” (Barnes, 2006) has been investigated in different contexts including OSN (Kokolakis, 2017). In some of such OSN studies, privacy behavior is examined as either self-disclosure (e.g. Hallam and Zanella, 2017; Taddicken, 2014) or privacy setting usage (e.g. Heravi, Mubarak, & Choo, 2015). To gain a better understanding of privacy behavior, thus, the current research regards privacy behavior as both self-disclosure and using privacy protective measures, which is broader than just using privacy settings and includes being cautious in joining groups, accepting friend requests, and being familiar with the privacy settings. Our aim is to investigate whether dichotomy between privacy concern and privacy behavior exist.