Facebook Privacy Concerns in Young Adults

young adults and facebook

Adolescents need to be a part of their social group. The need to be part of a group and the need for popularity are key elements in their lives. Facebook is a way for a lot of young adults to connect to a social network. Being visible within a social network is perceived to be an important aspect of popularity.

A part of building a social network is disclosing information, mostly self-disclosure. Disclosing information on such social network sites as facebook increases
the impression of trustworthiness and results in reciprocal personal disclosure on the part of the conversation partner. Using facebook fo social networking is not a sign of low self-esteem.

self-esteem may have an impact on the benefit people gain from using Facebook; those who have higher self-esteem have been shown to use Facebook more frequently in order to increase closeness in relationships

It is generally believed that disclosure of private information is mainly influenced by being able to control or wanting to control disclosure of information. Those low in control over their information are assumed to disclose often and much private details. Recent research however could not find a correlation between disclosure and information control on Facebook.

Contrary to expectations, information disclosure and information control were not significantly negatively correlated, and multiple regression analyzes revealed that while disclosure was significantly predicted by the need for popularity, levels of trust and self esteem predicted information control. Therefore, disclosure and control on Facebook are not as closely related as expected but rather are different processes that are affected by different aspects of personality.

It seems that people act different when interacting with facebook. The ways in which people act while interacting in Facebook is different from their acting with other means of communication.

What is it that results in higher disclosure in Facebook?
Probably the visibility of their social network together with qualities that improves popularity such as posting pictures, have discussions with friends and the sharing of personal interests result in higher disclosure. Popularity and disclosure are intensively linked in Facebook. Also identity on facebook is constructed by sharing information

identity is not an individual characteristic but a social product created not only by what you share, but also by what others share and say about you.

Limiting personal information in that sense also limits identity construction and this reduces popularity. Young adults high in self esteem predicted higher likelihood of controlling information. This interesting finding could be explained by the fact that those with higher self-esteem may have less need for the input of others into their self-construction. Those with higher self esteem are protected from many other difficulties of their age such as peer pressure and alcohol misuse because they are less concerned with identity co-construction.

Why is this important?

Concerns about the amount of information that young adults share on online network sites make this an important area of research. However, young adults may not see these issues from the same perspective as more mature adults. Attempts to help them protect their personal information may require a different approach than would be used if the target audience were composed of even slightly older adults.

Christofides, E., Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2009). Information Disclosure and Control on Facebook: Are They Two Sides of the Same Coin or Two Different Processes? CyberPsychology & Behavior, 2147483647-5 DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0226

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