Drawing the line, understanding privacy concern, privacy literacy and trust influences on online social network privacy boundaries

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2013
Thesis identifier
  • T13800
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • At the time of this research, online social network (OSN) participation was approaching ubiquity in the Western world. Online social network participation requires information disclosure to achieve social capital benefit, yet privacy concerns are commonly acknowledged among participants. Thus, understanding how information disclosures in OSNs are rationalised in light of privacy concerns is the topic of this this research. While some research into the privacy calculus has been accumulated in the literature, a complete understanding of the phenomenon is lacking. As a result, this research sought to provide novel explanations of the privacy paradox. From a positivist perspective an embedded mixed methods research design was employed. Qualitative data was collected via focus groups to enrich and pre-test the survey instrument comprised of 12 latent constructs reflected by 82 manifest variables. A cross-sectional survey of 835 Canadian online social network users was subsequently conducted using a snowball sampling technique. The hypothesised measurement and structural model was analysed via Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling techniques using SmartPLS 2.0. Results of the measurement and structural models offered external validation of a commonly accepted privacy concern construct. Communication Privacy Management theory was found to offer an effective description of certain OSN behaviours, but the measurement structure of the construct was not observed as hypothesised. Yet, numerous findings about how communication privacy management functioned within the privacy calculus were concluded from this research. Of particular note were the significant influences of privacy literacy and trust in various stakeholders upon communication privacy boundary coordination. Trust in the OSN provider was singled out as a major influence on OSN behaviours. Objective privacy knowledge was confirmed to be low. Privacy concern was revealed to be higher than anticipated but its effect on the privacy calculus was not as important as the other constructs. Thus, results of the final model contributed a novel privacy calculus model argued to contribute to the explanation of the privacy paradox. Among the original contributions of this research were the inclusion of a number of previously untested realtionships and constructs. Though theoretical support guided their inclusion, empirical tests of objective and subjective knowledge, trust in close connections and Communication Privacy Management had not previously been tested in the context of a privacy calculus in OSNs. Distinctions between the roles of both interpersonal and organisational trust were also evidenced. Implications to the science of marketing were clear as this study offered an obvious extension of knowledge and opportunities for future research were identified. Implications to government were revealed as a result of findings about objective knowledge. Implications to practice included recommendations for continued emphasis upon trust development and improvement and attention to privacy awareness.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2013
Former identifier
  • 1036995