Article Review by Justas Narauskas

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    Nov, O. & Wattal, S. 2009. Social computing privacy concerns: antecedents and effects. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 333-336). ACM. 

    ‘Social Computing Privacy Concerns: Antecedents & Effects’ describes how personal information sharing is impacted by privacy concerns in social computing communities. Additionally, Nov and Wattal explain how tenure and network centrality have an effect on the information sharing between users in these communities. The authors use data gathered from a Flickr user photo sharing study to prove their hypotheses and point out that further social computing privacy issues should be treated as a separate subject in future studies.
    Nov and Wattal argue that the amount of user supplied content as well as the willingness of users to share that content depends on the way users perceive online privacy and the effect these perceptions have on social computing communities. They also dispute that trust and social norms determine user privacy concerns, and privacy concerns, coupled with tenure and network structure, determine how online community member information sharing norms are affected. The result provides a basis for other areas of investigation and involves extending previous research on online privacy in general.
    The specific areas identified for further investigation are:
    1. Factors that impact user privacy concerns in social computing context;
    2. Ways that social communities can affect user behavior and change information sharing norms;
    3. Impact that internet privacy has on trust between social community members;
    4. How to help social computing outlets better understand user privacy concerns and react to them appropriately;
    Written in 2009, this article sparked a public debate and future studies on information sharing in social media and privacy concerns in the digital age. The significance of the article is that it clearly separated the line between social privacy concerns and general privacy concerns which has not been done before. The arrival of Web2.0 and the growth of social computing introduced a requirement for a more in-depth study on the social aspect of information sharing. Additional studies and articles, that this article relies on, are extensive, well chosen and corroborate the author’s findings.
    Most of the proven hypotheses, such as network centrality effect on the amount of information shared with the community or the community-specific privacy concern relation to internet privacy concerns are very clear and difficult to dispute. Authors chose the Partial Least Squares (PLS) algorithm to analyze the data. This algorithm is appropriate for similar data analysis problems. It allows one to estimate linear relationships between variables, describe observed data and also make predictions for new observations. Considering the time this article was published, it has provided enough data and follow up questions to allow further investigations into this area. Due to the recent developments in internet privacy laws and the expansion of social computing in general makes the author’s observations very farsighted. Although it needs to be mentioned that in order to make their findings even more compelling, the authors could have collected data from other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, as well as MySpace. This would have provided a bigger insight as Flickr is mainly used for only photo sharing and does not have any other user generated content. In fact, further studies by Bélanger et al. (2011) and Wang (2011) filled that gap using a very similar methodology and used the results of this article to further confirm the findings on the topic.

    Considering that the article was written in 2009 it is clear that the significance of these findings is still great, although new findings might shed more light on how the social dynamics changed in online communities over the years leading to today.

    It would be extremely insightful to see what effect did the disclosure of classified government documents, that have been leaked to the public by WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden and others, had on the user perception of internet privacy, and how that changed the social aspects of privacy. Also, how that changed the willingness of users to share content amongst themselves without the fear of repercussions. This leads to a larger discussion about the nature of privacy and inherent trust that the users associate with certain social media tools. One can argue that after the documents were leaked, a large population of the online community changed their views on what they deem safe and secure.

    Another thing to consider is that at the time when the article was written, social media and social computing in general were at a relatively young age. One can argue that the actual information sharing social norms could not have been formed fully as the users did not have enough time to use the social computing systems long enough to do so. Comparison of the social identity of the users now and when the article was written would give an invaluable insight to how social perceptions change over time as users got more accustomed to new technology and new ways of communication.
    Bélanger, F. & Crossler, R. 2011. Privacy in the digital age: a review of information privacy research in information systems. MIS quarterly 35.4: 1017-1042.
    Wang, Y. 2011. I regretted the minute I pressed share: a qualitative study of regrets on Facebook. New York, NY, ACM, Digital Library, sponsors by Carnegie Mellon CyLab.



    I really enjoyed reading your review Justas. (Good timing on submission too!)

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