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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Social Web and Self-Disclosure = Participation vs. Privacy? Exploring How Users Manage this Dilemma via Focus Groups
Year 2009
Access date 12.08.2009

Internet users are increasingly required to disclose personal information, especially for being able to take part in the so-called Social Web. Applications like social networking platforms, blogs and wikis offer participation and collaboration opportunities, but require the user’s willingness to reveal private information. Typically for the Social Web, making the self known to other users is crucial for being accepted as a part of the community.

In recent years, researchers found a heightened self-disclosure in computer-mediated communication (e. g. Joinson 2001, Tidwell/Walther 2002, Suler 2004). It can be argued whether this is a precondition for or a result of the rising Social Web.

At the same time privacy concerns of users increased. But so far there is relatively little evidence that users translate concerns about data abuse to privacy-enhancing behaviours while online. Joinson et al. (2008) showed that people’s dispositional privacy attitudes hardly influence their interpretation of specific online situations. Situational cues seem to be the main factor influencing the user’s self-disclosure. Therefore, it is necessary to think about the perceived trustworthiness of Social Web providers. Another main aspect is the awareness of the disclosure. Does revealing personal information ‘just happen’ or do users decide consciously about what information they disclose? If so, according to which criteria? Or do users even feel impelled to disclose personal data?

To answer these questions, four qualitative focus group discussions were conducted. This method allows testing persons interacting with each other. With this, even subliminal attitudes and reasons may be accessed and verbalised. People with an active use of the Social Web (e. g. writing an own blog) and people who show a more passive use (e. g. commentating blogs regularly) were interviewed in separate groups. The group size was about eight to ten people of different sex, age, education and profession.

Within these groups, self-disclosing behaviour in different Social Web applications as well as reasons for it were discussed. The results delivered a deep insight into the factors that influences the self-disclosure of Social Web users. Different explanations for the often occuring discrepancy between attitudes and behaviours of Web users were found.

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Year of publication2009
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
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Web survey bibliography - General Online Research Conference (GOR) 2009 (54)

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