Understanding the impact of privacy concerns and trust on social networking sites: Analysing user intentions towards willingness to share digital identities


Participation in social networking sites (SNS) has dramatically increased in recent years. SNS focus on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. This study examines the experiences of SNS users, and explores how the depth of their experience and knowledge of the Internet, trust and privacy concerns impact upon their individual willingness to share information about their own identity with other users on social networking websites. An acceptance model is proposed that incorporates cognitive, as well as affective, attitudes as primary influencing factors on user attitudes and behaviour which, in turn, are driven by underlying beliefs, perceived levels of privacy and trust, attitudinal experiences and knowledge, as well as a willingness to share. The proposed conceptual model for this study is derived from the literature review and Theory of Planned Behaviour. This model explains how people experience different levels of motivation about sharing knowledge and seeking information from other members which, in turn, leads to a divergence in both intentions and behaviours within virtual communities. The model shows excellent measurement properties and establishes two distinct constructs—specifically, the need for perceived levels of privacy, and the need for established levels of trust within SNS. This study is based on quantitative methodology and uses a structural equation model to test the construction of the model and its hypothesis. The data for this study were collected from a Facebook forum, with a sample size of 155 SNS users. The main theoretical contribution of this study is to provide greater understanding and new insights into privacy concerns and trust, in so far as these factors impact upon SNS users‘ willingness to readily share information regarding their digital identities. Secondly, this study will enrich the existing literature regarding the inter-relationship between the extent of SNS users‘ length and depth of experience as Internet users, as this impact upon their willingness to share identity-based information

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