A Longitudinal Study of Social Media Privacy Behavior

Andrew W Boyd, Pace University


Existing constructs for privacy concerns and behaviors do not adequately model deviations between user attitudes and stated user behaviors. While a number of studies have examined supposed deviations from rationality by online users, the true explanations for these stated behaviors may lie in factors not previously addressed in privacy concern constructs. This dissertation presents the results of an Agile, sprint-based longitudinal study of Social Networking Site users conducted over a twenty month period between April of 2009 and March of 2011. Extending the base constructs of the Internet User Information and Privacy Concern model and Privacy Regulation Theory to an online survey of privacy attitudes and self-reported behaviors for social media use; this dissertation's findings have significant implications for the study of online privacy management. This study supports prior published observations that online users behave counterintuitively when disclosing personal information, while indicating that existing models of disclosure are inadequate, and that a new model of online privacy disclosure is required. This initial irrational disclosure behavior and subsequent tightening of privacy attitudes and behaviors indicate the importance of assessing temporality when considering models of privacy behavior. By testing an evolving set of hypotheses through 'point in time' studies using a common test instrument, this study creates a harmonized longitudinal model for the manner in which individuals regulate their privacy boundaries. This model delineates how, in each privacy disclosure choice, individuals engage in a process of privacy boundary regulation and constantly mediate between privacy threats and threat mitigation strategies. The model developed and presented within this study offers a significant contribution to greater understanding of nuanced privacy disclosure behaviors among users. Keywords: online privacy, privacy behavior, social media, social networking, security, privacy regulation.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Information science|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Boyd, Andrew W, "A Longitudinal Study of Social Media Privacy Behavior" (2011). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3464297.



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