Assessing the privacy paradox : how privacy knowledge and fear appeals shape consumers’ privacy concerns and behavioral intentions to share personal data on social networking sites




Chadraba, Emily Katherine

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Issues surrounding consumer data privacy remain prevalent as the scope of information exchange, and resultant data collection capabilities continue to evolve across networked environments. While these advancing capabilities present a number of benefits for data-driven marketing and advertising, there are also a growing number of threats with regard to data misuse. Consumers demonstrate an understanding of these threats, as expressed through growing online privacy concerns. However, these concerns do not appear to stymie data sharing behaviors - resulting in what scholars call the privacy paradox. Recent industry and legislative efforts attempt to mitigate these concerns by advocating for greater consumer protection. One example where this can be seen is through the growing number of privacy control settings made available to consumers across social networking sites (SNS). As the online environment continues to grant consumers increased control over their data privacy, it remains critical to understand how these changes impact consumers privacy concerns and behaviors. Drawing from the Persuasion Knowledge Model (PKM) (Friestad & Wright, 1994), study one uses survey research to explore several variables believed to inform SNS users’ privacy knowledge, and the effect of this privacy knowledge on shaping their privacy concerns towards online and SNS environments. The results from this study highlight several key variables found to be influential in shaping respondents privacy concerns, suggesting that privacy knowledge is an effective avenue through which to explain and further explore the development of these perceptions. Using an experimental design, study two examines the impact of Gen Z SNS users’ online privacy concerns on their behavioral intention to utilize SNS privacy control settings. Applying the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) (Rogers, 1975), this study investigates how Gen Z consumers’ respond to fear appeal information about data misuse on SNS and how this response impacts their stated intentions to adopt SNS privacy control settings. The results indicate that fear appeals are an effective means through which to elicit a fear response among this demographic. Further, this fear response is found to positively influence adaptive behavioral intention. The findings from these studies offer a number of insights to scholars and practitioners seeking to better understand, and respond to, consumers’ present-day data privacy concerns and behaviors. Specific implications and directions for future research are proposed.



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