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Saturday, September 14 • 4:46pm - 6:30pm
“Coordinating boundaries around personal information – A confirmatory factor analysis of the communication privacy management measure in online social networks”

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Understanding how individuals make information disclosure decisions in online social networks has received much academic attention particularly in light of an observed privacy paradox (Acquisti and Gross 2006; Norberg, Horne and Horne 2007) wherein people share more information than their stated privacy concerns suggest they ought. Communication Privacy Management (CPM) theory (Petronio 2002) is a psychological boundary theory that has recently been used to explain personal information disclosures in online environments (Metzger 2007; Child, Pearson and Petronio 2009; Waters and Akerman 2011; Xu et al 2011). Essentially, this theory elucidates how people make decisions about their information in order to strike a balance between disclosure and privacy in the context of relationships. 

Communication Privacy Management (CPM) theory is based on the idea that individuals erect boundaries around their personal information and either metaphorically open the boundary to permit information disclosure or close the boundary to restrict information flow. There are three rule management processes within CPM theory: boundary rule formation, boundary coordination and boundary turbulence (Petronio 2002). The formation of boundary rules is based upon five criteria: 1) cost-benefit ratio, 2) context, 3) motivations, 4) gender and 5) culture. Boundary coordination processes refers to the control that individuals exert over their information sharing behaviour. Specifically, individuals’ coordination processes involve complex mental calculations to determine the breadth and depth of personal information to share (boundary permeability, BP), with whom to share their personal information (boundary linkages, BL) and who maintains ownership over their information (boundary ownership, BO). Finally, boundary turbulence occurs when boundary coordination fails (i.e. privacy breach). 

Despite researchers’ interest in explaining the privacy paradox, application of CPM theory in online social networks is in a nascent stage. CPM theory has been used as an organizing theoretical framework (Metzger 2007; Waters and Akerman 2011; Xu et al 2011), the five criteria of privacy rule development were observed in Facebook disclosures, and each of the three boundary coordination processes were empirically confirmed (Child, Pearson, and Petronio 2009), but the empirical confirmation remains the only test of its kind and it was developed specifically in the context of bloggers. Thus, the objective of this research was to test the factor structure of the boundary coordination processes of CPM in the context of online social networks. 

An online survey of 835 online social network users was administered to assess boundary coordination processes of these individuals using 36 manifest variables (12 per latent construct). Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the three latent dimensions and corresponding 36 manifest variables of OSN CPM was conducted using Amos 19. Results showed that only two of the three latent boundary coordination constructs had sufficient factor loadings to be retained. The two remaining latent boundary coordination constructs were shown to be distinct yet correlated constructs. The research concluded parsimonious measurement scales for the remaining latent boundary coordination processes that can be used in subsequent online social network investigations. 

Acquisti, A. and Gross, R. 2006 Imagined communities: Awareness, information sharing, and privacy on the Facebook, PET 2006, Accessed from: <http://privacy.cs.cmu.edu/dataprivacy/projects/facebook/facebook2.pdf>

Child, J., Pearson, J.C. and Petronio, S., 2009. Blogging, communication, and privacy management: Development of the blogging privacy management measure, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(10), pp.2079-2094. 

Metzger, M. J. 2007. Communication privacy management in electronic commerce. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, [online] 12(2), article 1. Accessed from: http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/issue2/metzger.html 

Norberg, P.A., Horne, D. R., and Horne, D.A., 2007. The Privacy Paradox: Personal Information Disclosure Intentions Versus Behaviors, Journal of Consumer Affairs, 41(1), pp.100-126. 

Petronio, S. S., 2002. Boundaries of privacy: dialectics of disclosure. Albany: State University of New York Press. 

Waters, S. and Ackerman, J., 2011. Exploring Privacy Management on Facebook: Motivations and Perceived Consequences of Voluntary Disclosure, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 17, pp.101–115. 

Xu, H., Dinev, T. Smith, H.J. Hart, P., 2011. Information privacy concerns: Linking individual perception with institutional privacy assurances, Journal of the Association of Information Systems, 12(12), pp.798-824. 


Bobbi Morrison

St. Francis Xavier University, Canada

Saturday September 14, 2013 4:46pm - 6:30pm EDT
Rowe Atrium

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