Age differences in privacy attitudes, literacy and privacy management on Facebook

Special issue: Online Self-disclosure and Privacy

Privacy has been identified as a hot button issue in literature on Social Network Sites (SNSs). While considerable research has been conducted with teenagers and young adults, scant attention has been paid to differences among adult age groups regarding privacy management behavior. With a multidimensional approach to privacy attitudes, we investigate Facebook use, privacy attitudes, online privacy literacy, disclosure, and privacy protective behavior on Facebook across three adult age groups (18-40, 41-65, and 65+). The sample consisted of an online convenience sample of 518 adult Facebook users. Comparisons suggested that although age groups were comparable in terms of general Internet use and online privacy literacy, younger groups were more likely to use SNSs more frequently, use Facebook for social interaction purposes, and have larger networks. Also, younger adults were more likely to self-disclose and engage in privacy protective behaviors on Facebook. In terms of privacy attitudes, older age groups were more likely to be concerned about privacy of other individuals. In general, all dimensions of privacy attitudes (i.e., belief that privacy is a right, being concerned about one’s privacy, belief that one’s privacy is contingent on others, being concerned about protecting privacy of others) were positively correlated with engagement in privacy protective behavior on Facebook. A mediation model demonstrated that amount of disclosure mediated the relationship between age groups and privacy protective behavior on Facebook. Finally, ANCOVA suggested that the impact of privacy attitudes on privacy protective behavior was stronger among mature adults. Also, unlike older age groups, among young adults, considering privacy as a right or being concerned about privacy of other individuals had no impact on privacy protective behavior.

Privacy attitudes; privacy literacy; privacy management; self-disclosure; Facebook; age differences
Author biographies

Murat Kezer

Murat Kezer (B.A. Boğaziçi University, 2015) is currently a graduate student at the Department of Psychology, at Koç University in Turkey. His current research interests are dynamics of social media, interpersonal perception, and particularly first impressions.

Barış Sevi

Barış Sevi (B.A. Bilkent University, 2015) is currently a graduate student at the Department of Psychology, at Koç University in Turkey. His current research focuses on interpersonal relations and attitudes in social media.

Zeynep Cemalcilar

Zeynep Cemalcilar (Ph.D. University of Texas, 2003) is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology, at Koç University in Turkey. She is interested in studying social psychological theories and issues as processes applied to real world situations. Her recent research also focuses on understanding the dynamics of social media and use of technology in the social life.

Lemi Baruh

Lemi Baruh (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, Annenberg School for Communication, 2007) is Associate Professor at the Department of Media and Visual Arts, at Koç University in Turkey. His research interests include new media technologies, surveillance, privacy—especially related to attitudes about privacy—and culture of voyeurism.

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