Title

Understanding Users’ Coping with Information Privacy Threats in Online Social Networks

Abstract

My dissertation focuses on understanding users’ coping with information privacy threats in Online Social Networks (OSNs) by investigating (i) the outcomes of users’ privacy related trade-offs (e.g. trade-offs between perceived benefits vs. information privacy threats associated with the use OSNs); and (ii) the strategies that users employ to cope with information privacy threats in different conditions (e.g., when they believe they have high vs. low control to prevent a privacy threat).

The following research questions will be answered in this dissertation: (1) How do users response to a perceived benefit and/or an information privacy threat associated with an information practice in an OSN? (2) Under what conditions are users motivated to avoid a privacy threat? (3) What are the strategies that users employ to cope with a privacy threat when they believe the threat is avoidable (or not avoidable) by taking safeguarding measures? To fully answer these research questions, I will undertake three separate but interrelated studies and will employ a mixed method approach. They include: The development of a process theory to explain the outcomes of an OSN user’s benefit and privacy threat perceptions drawing on Coping Theory (Lazarus 1966) and an extensive literature review on information privacy (Study #1); an empirical investigation of the relationships among users’ benefit and privacy threat perceptions and their use intentions and coping responses using scenario-based surveys (Study #2); and an empirical investigation of the impact of users’ threat avoidability perceptions on their coping responses using scenario-based experiments (Study #3).

This dissertation will have important theoretical contributions to the information privacy literature. Moreover, by shedding light on users’ privacy perceptions and vulnerabilities to privacy invasions in OSNs, this research will provide practitioner and managerial guidance in the development of effective information privacy policies, privacy awareness and training programs, and easy-to-use privacy protection technologies.

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