Place Determinants for the Personalization-Privacy Tradeoff among Students
[This Proceedings paper was revised and published in the 2018 issue of the journal Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, Volume 15]
In this exploratory study we investigate the influential factors of users' decisions in the dilemma whether to agree to online personalization or to protect their online privacy.
Various factors related to online privacy and anonymity were considered, such as user's privacy concern on the Web in general and particularly on social networks, user online privacy literacy and field of study.
To this end, 155 students from different fields of study in the Israeli academia were administered closed-ended questionnaires.
The main conceptual contribution of this study was the creation of a new direct scale for assessing user decisions regarding the personalization-privacy tradeoff. Another contribution was the investigation of the predictive factors of the personalization-privacy tradeoff. While previous studies found that users seldom allow their privacy concerns to affect their online behavior, our results revealed the opposite, as the participants with a higher level of concern for online privacy tended to prefer privacy protection, at the expense online personalization.
The multivariate linear regression analysis showed that as the participants' privacy concern increases, they tend to prefer privacy protection over online personalization. In addition, we found significant differences between men and women, as men tended to favor privacy protection more than women did.
The new direct scale that was developed may be used by other practitioners to measure other issues relating to the privacy paradox behavior.
The questionnaire may be used by other researchers to examine online information behavior.
This research has social implications for the academia and general public as they show that by raising the concern for the protection of personal information on the Web, it is possible to influence the personalization-privacy tradeoff and encourage users to prefer privacy protection. Furthermore, the enhancement of users' preference for privacy protection over Web-surfing convenience may be used as a mean to mitigate the online privacy paradox behavior.
Since our results were based on students' self-perceptions, which might be biased, future work should apply qualitative analysis to explore additional types and influencing factors of online privacy behavior.