People fail to preserve private information online


A majority of the people are much concerned about online privacy but they readily divulge private information online. A new study said that people talk a lot of privacy but fail to follow in real life.

The study was published in the latest Proceedings of Computer-Human Interaction (CHI 2020). The team of researchers at Penn State came across a dozen reasons that shed light on why people divulge private information online.

Shyam Sundar, an associate of Penn State’s Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, said that people are much concerned about privacy and take all precautions online such as changing pass words often.  However, he said that the reality was that people reveal a lot online and on social media. They disclose many things in the heat of the moment by falling for contextual cues. He said that 12 different kinds of appeals that influenced people to reveal information online were tested. These appeals (heuristics) were based on rules of thumb. Heuristics are mental shortcuts triggered by cues on a mobile app or website.

The researchers also said that these cues may not always be obvious. They might be sometimes simple sentence or a statement. He also referred to an example of people completing the profile in LinkedIn. A person my see a statement saying that his or her profile is incomplete and that 70 percent of their connections have completed their profiles. This is considered a cue that triggers the need to follow others. The researchers also found that people with a strong pre-existing behest in bandwagon heuristic were more likely to reveal personal data such a scenario.  They said that “authonty hauntie’  (ingrained trust in authonty) is the reason for disclosure of personal information. The researchers said the study could be used for creating awareness about online security.

For the study, 786 people were asked to participate in an online survey. They were asked to review 12 scenarios they could come online and to assess their willingness to disclose personal information.


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