Impact of privacy, trust and user activity on intentions to share Facebook photos

Publication Date14 Nov 2016
AuthorAqdas Malik,Kari Hiekkanen,Amandeep Dhir,Marko Nieminen
Impact of privacy, trust and user
activity on intentions to share
Facebook photos
Aqdas Malik, Kari Hiekkanen, Amandeep Dhir and
Marko Nieminen
Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
Purpose – The popularity of Facebook photo sharing has not only seen a surge in the number of
photos shared but also has raised various issues concerning user privacy and self-disclosure. Recent
literature has documented the increasing interest of the research community in understanding various
privacy issues concerning self-disclosures on Facebook. However, little is known about how different
privacy issues, trust and activity inuence users’ intentions to share photos on Facebook. To bridge this
gap, a research model was developed and tested to better understand the impact of privacy concerns,
privacy awareness and privacy-seeking on trust and actual photo sharing activity and subsequently on
photo sharing intentions. This study aims to examine the consequences of various facets of privacy
associated with photo sharing activity on Facebook.
Design/methodology/approach – A cross-sectional data from 378 respondents were collected and
analysed using partial least squares modelling.
Findings The results revealed a signicant relationship between various aspects of privacy,
including awareness and protective behaviour, with trust and activity. Furthermore, trust and users’
photo sharing activity signicantly impact photo sharing intentions on Facebook.
Originality/value – This study contributes new knowledge concerning various privacy issues and
their impact on photo sharing activity and trust. The study also proposes implications that are highly
relevant for social networking sites, media agencies and organisations involved in safeguarding the
privacy of online users.
Keywords Facebook, Computer-mediated communication, Trust, Photo sharing, Privacy concerns,
Privacy-seeking behaviour
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Social networking sites (SNSs) have become an integral part of everyday activity for billions
of internet users (Facebook Newsroom, 2015;Lenhart, 2015). People access SNSs for status
updates, interaction with groups, searching and browsing user proles, inviting contacts,
private messaging, content browsing and sharing and commenting (Madden et al., 2013a;
Malik et al., 2016;Smock et al., 2011). The rise in SNS usage and acceptance has led to an
overwhelming increase in the information revealed by SNS users (Stutzman et al., 2013;
Young and Quan-Haase, 2013). Extensive amounts of content shared on SNSs have raised
users’ concerns over the vulnerability of their personal SNS content to unintended exposure
(Chang and Heo, 2014;Fogel and Nehmad, 2009;Orito et al., 2014;Wilson et al., 2014). Prior
literature has indicated that the SNSs (including Facebook) collect and store users’ personal
information and browsing activity, as well as shared content, for an indenite period of time
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 23 June 2015
Revised 2 January 2016
Accepted 6 January 2016
Journalof Information,
Communicationand Ethics in
Vol.14 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JICES-06-2015-0022
(Debatin et al., 2009;Shin, 2010). These companies commonly use these rich data (e.g. photos,
videos, user logs and user activities) for their own marketing purposes and business gains,
as well as sharing it with third parties, including governmental agencies and business
partners. Consequently, the users tend to lose control over their data once they are published
on these networks (Acquisti and Gross, 2006;Chang and Heo, 2014;Debatin et al., 2009). In
addition to this, user concerns regarding information misuse and abuse, stolen personal
data, cyber bullying, stalking and child safety also fuel the privacy concerns of the users
(Chang and Heo, 2014;Krasnova et al., 2009a;Raynes-Goldie, 2010).
Despite the fact that over recent years, concerns and awareness about privacy-related
issues among SNS users have dramatically increased (Chang and Heo, 2014;Hoadley
et al., 2010;Stutzman et al., 2013), most SNS users still seem unaware about the fate of
their personal content on these platforms (Orito et al., 2014). Furthermore, Facebook
users continue to disclose information (such as photos) despite having concerns about
privacy (Litt and Hargittai, 2014;Taddicken, 2014). As a result of increased privacy
concerns and awareness among Facebook users, who are yet disclosing a lot of personal
information, understanding the associated issues has become highly relevant for
researchers and social networking practitioners.
Photo sharing is regarded as one of the leading activities on Facebook and is also
considered an important form of disclosure on Facebook (Eftekhar et al., 2014;Madden
et al., 2013a;Malik et al., 2016). Facebook users have already contributed over 250 billion
photos, and every day, they contribute 350 million photos on Facebook (,
2013). Similarly, more than 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared every day on ve
leading SNS platforms (Meeker, 2014). Despite this extraordinary adoption and usage of
digital photos on Facebook and other SNSs, a limited amount of research has explored
privacy-related issues and attitudes in the context of photo sharing on Facebook
(Cunningham et al., 2010;Litt and Hargittai, 2014;Shin, 2010). Specically, the impact of
the users’ privacy attitudes and perceptions on the users’ trust, SNS activity and photo
sharing intentions is largely unknown. Consequently, it is important to understand this
relationship, as it helps in understanding how various privacy-related attitudes and
perceptions shape the users’ trust and activity level, which ultimately inuences an
individual’s intention to share photos. To address this gap, the present study
investigates the impact of privacy awareness, privacy-seeking behaviour and privacy
concerns on shaping an individual’s trust and activity level. Furthermore, we examine
the mediating role of trust and activity levels on an individual’s photo sharing
intentions. The study aims to answer the following research questions:
RQ1. How do users’ privacy concerns, privacy awareness and privacy-seeking
measures inuence their trust in Facebook?
RQ2. How do users’ privacy concerns, privacy awareness and privacy-seeking
measures inuence their activity on Facebook?
RQ3. How do users’ levels of trust and activity inuence their Facebook photo
2. Background literature
2.1 Social networking site disclosure and privacy
Self-disclosure can be dened as communicating personal information to other people
(Derlega and Chaikin, 1977). On SNS platforms, self-disclosures can be carried out either

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