Do you value your friends' private information on social media as much as your own? Most likely not, says a new study, suggesting that when it comes to their privacy, people are info-egoists.
People are much more concerned about sharing their own private information with third-party app developers than they are about revealing their friends' data, the study said. However, as social media makes data increasingly interconnected, preserving one's own privacy while ignoring the privacy rights of others may make everybody's data more vulnerable, said Jens Grossklags, assistant professor of information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University in the US. "The problem is becoming known as interdependent privacy," Grossklags said. "The privacy of individual consumers does not only depend on their own decisions, but is also affected by the actions of others," Grossklags pointed out.
In the study, the researchers measured the economic value of personal information which individuals place on their own and other's information. The participants valued the data in their own social media profiles at $2.31 and their friends' data at $1.56 when friends' data was irrelevant to a third party app's function.
When friends' data was necessary for app function, the participants valued their own data at $2.04 and their friends' data at just 98 cents. The researchers estimated that the average Facebook user, for example, with an average of more than 300 friends, would value the bundle of friends' data at less than a cent per friend when data collection is necessary. When data collection is unnecessary, people value the information for a single friend at less than three cents.
The researchers collected data from about 400 users of Mechanical Turk, a crowd sourced marketplace that allows members to earn money for completing various tasks. The findings were presented at the International Conference on Information Systems in Fort Worth, Texas, US.