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Along with the promise to make a significant contribution to combatting COVID-19, contact tracing apps face a challenge since their success is preconditioned upon mass and rapid acceptance of the same product. Therefore, the adoption patterns must be carefully examined. So far, the privacy calculus model assumes Internet users act as rational agents weighing up their perceived benefits and privacy risks. Herding literature, however, suggests that people discount their own information and rather imitate others’ behavior. We test these competing concepts with a longitudinal survey among 253 actual users of a mobile tracing app at the pre-adoption and post-adoption stage across two countries. We exhibit that individuals perform risk-benefit calculus in the pre-adoption phase and simultaneously heavily rely on social factors like imitating others. As for continuous use, perceived benefits primarily drive consumer retention; herding magnitude is much lower while privacy risks are neglected. Implications are discussed.



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