Three essays on the comparison of privacy in social media and e-commerce for older and young adults
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Privacy has increasingly become a critical attribute about the Internet. When innovations using Web and Internet technologies began gaining public acceptance over more than a couple of decades ago, security and privacy were not necessarily part of the foundational designs. Innovations like social networking and e-commerce could not be successful simply on the basis of virtualization. The makers of these services needed users to contribute their personal information in order to offer more value than their counterparts in the physical world. This trend has largely contributed to the erosion of information privacy on the Internet. The trade-off of privacy is happening in multiple ways, with the two of the biggest phenomena being sharing on social media and trusting e-commerce websites with sensitive information. Both of these activities add a lot of value to users as is evident from their growing acceptance across different parts of the society. However, in the midst of these activities, privacy of personal information is increasingly getting threatened through unintended sharing on social media and the onslaught of malicious hacks on e-commerce websites. This doctoral dissertation is devoted to the individual human actions that help or hurt in that threat to privacy. Since privacy is an evolving social construct, these actions are analyzed first and foremost through the lenses of generation and gender differences. Through three complementary essays, privacy-related user behavior and their antecedents have been investigated in the contexts of social media and e-commerce. These essays also demonstrate different methodologies and approaches for researching privacy on the Internet.