Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Background: Social media usage is one of the most popular online activities, but with it comes privacy concerns due to how personal data are handled by these social networking sites. Prior literature aimed at identifying users’ privacy concerns as well as user behavior associated with privacy mitigation strategies and policies. However, OSN users continue to divulge private information online and privacy remains an issue. Accordingly, this review aims to present extant research on this topic, and to highlight any potential research gaps.

Method: The paper presents a systematic literature review for the period 2006 - 2021, in which 33 full papers that explored privacy concerns in online social networks (OSN), users’ behavior associated with privacy preservation strategies and OSN privacy policies were examined.

Results: The findings indicate that users are concerned about their identity being stolen, the disclosure of sensitive information by third-party applications and through data leakage and the degree of control users have over their data. Strategies such as encryption, authentication, and privacy settings configuration, can be used to address users’ concerns. Users generally do not leverage privacy settings available to them, or read the privacy policies, but will opt to share information based on the benefits to be derived from OSNs.

Conclusion: OSN users have specific privacy concerns due primarily to the inherent way in which personal data are handled. Different preservation strategies are available to be used by OSN users. Policies are provided to inform users, however, these policies at times are difficult to read and understand, but studies show that there is no direct effect on the behavior of OSN users. Further research is needed to elucidate the correlation between the relative effectiveness of different privacy preservation strategies and the privacy concerns exhibited by users. Extending the research to comparatively assess different social media sites could help with better awareness of the true influence of privacy policies on user behavior.