Why We’re So Hypocritical About Online Privacy

To address this question, a recent meta-analysis of 166 studies, including 75,269 participants of 34 countries, explored the so-called “privacy paradox,” that is, the puzzling fact that people’s concerns about privacy rarely appear to translate into protective behaviors. Contrary to previous studies, the findings of the meta-analysis revealed that individuals who are more concerned with and informed about privacy tend to use fewer online services, set stronger security settings, and disclose less personal information. However, when it comes to social media use, there is indeed a privacy paradox, as even individuals who express concerns behave quite carelessly, engaging in uncensored or inappropriate self-disclosure, making a great deal of their digital footprint public, and allowing a wide range of external apps to access their data. It has been estimated that nearly 40% of Facebook content is shared according to the (rather unsafe) default settings, and that privacy settings match users’ expectations only 37% of the time. Thus, it appears that no amount of privacy concerns will make social media users more cautious.
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