想象的社区

Imagined Communities: Awareness, Information Sharing, and Privacy on the Facebook
Alessandro Acquisti1 and Ralph Gross2
1 H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management
2 Data Privacy Laboratory, School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Abstract. Online social networks such as Friendster, MySpace, or the Facebook have experienced exponential growth in membership in recent years. These networks offer attractive means for interaction and communication, but also raise privacy and security concerns. In this study we survey a representative sample of the members of the Facebook (a social network for colleges and high schools) at a US academic institution, and compare the survey data to information retrieved from the network itself. We look for underlying demographic or behavioral differences between the communities of the network's members and non-members; we analyze the impact of privacy concerns on members' behavior; we compare members' stated attitudes with actual behavior; and we document the changes in behavior subsequent to privacy-related information exposure. We find that an individual’s privacy concerns are only a weak predictor of his membership to the network. Also privacy concerned individuals join the network and reveal great amounts of personal information. Some manage their privacy concerns by trusting their ability to control the information they provide and the external access to it. However, we also find evidence of members’ misconceptions about the online community's actual size and composition, and about the visibility of members' profiles.
G. Danezis and P. Golle (Eds.): PET 2006, LNCS 4258, pp. 36–58, 2006.
cSpringer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Introduction
"Students living in the scholarship halls [of Kansas University] were written up in early February for pictures on facebook.com that indicated a party violating the scholarship halls alcohol policy" [1]. "'Stan Smith' (not his real name) is a sophomore at Norwich University. He is majoring in criminal justice even though he admits to shoplifting on his MySpace page" [2]. "Corporations are investing in text-recognition software from vendors such as SAP and IBM to monitor blogs by employees and job candidates" [3]. Although online social networks are offering novel opportunities for interaction among their users, they seem to attract non-users' attention particularly because of the privacy concerns they raise. Such concerns may be well placed; however, online social networks are no longer niche phenomena: millions of people around the world, young and old, knowingly and willingly use Friendster, MySpace, Match.com, LinkedIn,and hundred other sites to communicate, find friends, dates, and jobs - and in doing so, they wittingly reveal highly personal information to friends as well as strangers.

Nobody is literally forced to join an online social network, and most networks we know about encourage, but do not force users to reveal - for instance - their dates of birth, their cell phone numbers, or where they currently live. And yet, one cannot help but marvel at the nature, amount, and detail of the personal information some users provide, and ponder how informed this information sharing is. Changing cultural trends, familiarity and confidence in digital technologies, lack of exposure or memory of egregious misuses of personal data by others may all play a role in this unprecedented phenomenon of information revelation. Yet, online social networks' security and access controls are weak by design - to leverage their value as network goods and enhance their growth by making registration, access, and sharing of information uncomplicated. At the same time, the costs of mining and storing data continue to decline. Combined, the two features imply that information provided even on ostensibly private social networks is, effectively, public data, that could exist for as long as anybody has an incentive to maintain it. Many entities - from marketers to employers to national and foreign security agencies - may have those incentives.

In this paper we combine survey analysis and data mining to study one such network, catered to college and high school communities: the Facebook (FB). We survey a representative sample of FB members at a US campus. We study their privacy concerns, their usage of FB, their attitudes towards it as well as their awareness of the nature of its community and the visibility of their own profiles. In particular, we look for underlying demographic or behavioral differences between the communities of the network's members and non-members; we analyze the impact of privacy concerns on members' behavior; we compare members' stated attitudes with actual behavior; and we document the change in behavior subsequent information exposure: who uses the Facebook? Why? Are there significant differences between users and non-users? Why do people reveal more or less personal information? How well do they know the workings of the network?

Our study is based on a survey instrument, but is complemented by analysis of data mined from the network before and after the survey was administered. We show that there are significant demographic differences between FB member and non-members; that although FB members express, in general, significant concern about their privacy, they are not particularly concerned for their privacy on FB; that a minority yet significant share of the FB population at the Campus we surveyed is unaware of the actual exposure and visibility of the information they publish on FB; and we document that priming about FB’s information practices can alter some of its members' behavior.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 we discuss the evolution of online social networks and FB in particular. In Section 3 we highlight the methods of our analysis. In Section 4 we present our results. In Section 5 we compare survey results to network data.

http://www.springerlink.com/content/gx00n8nh88252822/
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