Heavy Facebook users cool about sharing personal information

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New York– People who spend more than three hours a day on Facebook have more relaxed privacy attitudes and are more likely to share personal information than those who spend less time on the social networking site, new research has found.

Heavy social network users who read friends’ updates and share information about themselves become used to the act of posting their information as they read daily about their friends and the world, spurring them to post more about themselves — and to share more during off-line encounters, the study said.

Facebook logo“People sometimes don’t realise the powerful socialising role of social media,” said Mina Tsay-Vogel, Assistant Professor at Boston University in the US.

“Yes, we are maintaining relationships with others, and we might all get to know the most current news and what people are doing, and it’s very satiating,” Tsay-Vogel said.

“But we might not realise that it’s also affecting how we’re seeing information disclosure in the real world, and how it’s also impacting us to then disclose our own personal information. Not only in the virtual world, but in the off-line world,” she noted.

The study, published in the journal New Media and Society, analysed five years’ worth of surveys from 2,789 students (18-to-25-year-old) in the US.

Researchers surveyed students in introductory communications courses between 2010 and 2015, asking them about their Facebook habits and their attitudes toward privacy and government regulation in order to discern patterns in their behaviour and attitudes about sharing information on Facebook.

This multiyear look at the same age group gave researchers more insights into users’ attitudes than a one-time snapshot, Tsay-Vogel said.

The data showed that heavier users of Facebook, defined as being on a social network for more than the sample average of 3.17 hours a day, had more relaxed privacy attitudes and were more likely to share personal information, Tsay-Vogel said.


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