Changing understandings of online privacy: Profiling millennials

BAYERL, Petra, FIDLEROVA, D and KLESSE, AK (2018). Changing understandings of online privacy: Profiling millennials. In: CUNNANE, Vincent and CORCORAN, Niall, (eds.) Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Social Media (ECSM 2018). Sonning Common, Academic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd., 427-435.

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This study investigates Millennials' understanding of online privacy. As the first digitally native generation, a frequently heard assumption is that their attitudes towards online privacy have shifted compared to previous generations that have not grown up with the Internet and the ubiquitous presence of social media. However, previous studies found conflicting evidence to this claim. Our study aims to address these contradictions leading to a clearer picture of whether, and if so, in which way Millennials' understandings of privacy differ from earlier generations. With this our study offers a glimpse into changing privacy understandings, when being online and connected through social media are natural elements of everyday life. We used Q-methodology as quantitative exploratory approach in combination with semistructured interviews to profile Millennials' attitudes towards privacy. We included 20 Millennials (mean age: 23.3 years). Our analysis identified three disparate groups, each with a unique perspective on online privacy. According to their respective focus we refer to them as: authenticity-driven connectors, privacy-conscious strategists and unconcerned sharers. The three groups identified in our data represent disparate perspectives on online privacy by Millennials and their ideas of what should be shared or not shared online and for which reasons. Starting points are motivations for being online and with this the main addressees, the type of information as well as the degree of 'truthfulness' or 'completeness' of information individuals seem willing to share. Another dimension differentiating profiles are the extent of general privacy concerns. In addition, we also detail shared elements amongst perspectives. Our findings illustrate that the extent of privacy concerns (i.e., quantity) as well as the reasons for being concerned (i.e., quality) vary considerably within Millennials. Our observations also signal an important distinction between privacy concerns vs impression management as rationales for drawing privacy boundaries by Millennials. Further practical implications are discussed.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Limerick Institute of Technology, Ireland, 21-22 June 2018.
Page Range: 427-435
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2023 10:25
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 16:15

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