Navigating between privacy settings and visibility rules: online self-disclosure in the social web

Manuela Farinosi, Sakari Taipale

Abstract


In this paper, we focus our attention on the most popular social networking website, Facebook, and analyse the strategies of online self-disclosure and privacy management. In particular, the study investigates the attitudes toward privacy on Facebook among young Italian people (ages 18-34) by means of their strategies of voluntary self-disclosure, management of the visibility rules and audience selectivity.

The research was conducted in Udine, Italy, and involved a convenience sample of Italian college students. With a structured online survey, we collected 1,125 responses and decided to analyse a subsample of 18 to 34 year olds (N=813). We specifically analysed the respondents’ main privacy concerns, exploring to which degree personal information is disclosed (i.e., what information is protected, how information is shared, who has access, etc.), whether or not privacy concerns are differentiated by gender, and if they are more against other users than against Facebook as a company or against third-party partners.

Our results show that students have just slightly more privacy concerns against other users than against Facebook and much less against third-party partners. However, women are consistently more concerned about privacy-related risks than men. We suggest that these results may account for different perceptions of online risks between men and women.

Keywords


self-disclosure, gender, privacy settings, visibility rules, Facebook

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