Why users willingly share personal info on shady-looking websites

Posted By: Nairita Das
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Washington, Aug 25 (ANI): Why is it that Internet users don't care about sharing their most personal details on a shady, unprofessional-looking website or don't mind answering questions on a pop quiz that reads 'How BAD Are U??'

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University - Leslie K. John, Alessandro Acquisti, and George Loewenstein - said that many consumers need help recognizing when their privacy is compromised.

"How can we make sense of the contradictory attitudes that individuals display toward privacy-from the seemingly reckless willingness of some to post personal and even incriminating information on social network sites, to the concern people express over the range of information being collected about them and the way it's being used?" said the authors.

In an experiment, the team found that 21 percent people answered truthfully to a survey on a website that was intentionally made to look unprofessional, with a header that asked "How BAD Are U???" in a red font next to a cartoon devil logo.

The quiz asked participants whether they had engaged in a series of different behaviours.

But when the same survey was posted on a website that billed it as "Carnegie Mellon University Executive Council Survey on Ethical Behaviours" next to the university crest, only 12.9 percent answered honestly.

"People were more willing to divulge sensitive information when the survey was administered on an unprofessional-looking website," the authors write.

"People seem naturally comfortable disclosing personal information on unprofessional websites-which are arguably more likely to misuse it," they added.

Cueing users to become more aware of privacy issues could be one way of warning them against disclosing personal information online, their study concluded.

The study is published in the Journal of Consumer Research. (ANI)

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