Understanding Information Privacy in the Age of Social Media: Cultural Privacy Boundary Framework
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In many recent studies of information privacy in information systems (IS), the focus has been upon measuring an individual’s concern for privacy. In most cases, the utilitarian view of privacy calculus has been adopted when addressing privacy concerns and their effects. This view approaches privacy as either (a) an independent variable of behavior-related variables such as willingness to disclose personal information, intention to transact, and information disclosure behavior, or (b) a dependent variable of several antecedents such as experiences, awareness, personality differences, demographic differences, and cultural differences. Without considering its evolving nature relative to changing information and communication technologies, IS researchers’ perceptions of information privacy as “one’s ability to control information about oneself” prevent us from understand information privacy appropriately. Because the disclosure of personal information on social media services has raised users’ concerns about privacy risks, IS researchers must consider information privacy from the angles of both (a) information types and importance (what to disclose), and (b) interaction management (with whom to disclose). A social capital approach focuses on the control of both information types and interaction with others in the digital space. It is thus beneficial to an understanding of information privacy, which evolves in the ever-changing technological environment. In this study, I tried to construct users’ cognitive maps of information privacy by considering both the types of information they choose to disclose and their relationships with other users. Using these cognitive maps, I worked to understand how cross-cultural differences can affect an individual user’s decision-making in regard to the process of private information disclosure on social media services. After preliminary study of cognitive map construction, I proposed and empirically validated what I am calling the cultural privacy boundary framework using survey data collected in two different countries. Results show that users of social networking services in different countries use different factors to address information-privacy-related decision making. While U.S. data illustrates the importance of conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness to experiences, data from Korea shows collectivism, agreeableness, and emotional stability have a significant influence on privacy concern. Results also indicate differences in individual users’ perceptions of information privacy in the U.S. and Korea, such that 5 out of 6 tested relationships between privacy concern and its antecedents (e.g., cultural or personality differences) are significantly different. By identifying hidden cultural values in an individual’s privacy boundary implementation, this study could enhance our understandings of how the collectivism/ individualism dimension of culture, in conjunction with personality differences, can affect individual users’ decisions to share their private information with specific in-groups on social media services. This study also provided the clue for social media service providers to effectively design their privacy-related strategies.