Private or public profile: Exploring the links between privacy status and trust on Instagram
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There were an estimated 2.95 billion social media users in 2019 (Clement, 2020) and every user has at least one user profile. User profiles are important as an extended core self into the online world and they also contain personal information. Increasingly, users become more aware of the privacy concerns associated with their profiles and social media platforms also enable users to control the access of their information by allowing them to change the privacy status. The outcome of having a public or private profile isn’t just about the potential risks or positive impact, it is linked with the user’s trust . This research, which looked at a total of 58 participants, showed that users on Instagram with private profiles have a higher level of trust than users with public profiles. A possible explanation for this was linked to the CPM theory and findings which identifies that privacy boundaries have a positive effect on trust. The second part of the study used an online experiment. Two random groups were created with one group exposed to six mocked-up public profiles and the other group exposed to six mocked-up private profiles. Although results failed to show any significant difference between trust and the profile privacy intervention, the results indicated that users with PTP had an increase in trust post intervention, regardless of what profiles they were exposed to. This research showed that profile privacy status is an important topic which closely links to the evolving issues on privacy concerns and a user’s trust. Future research is required to explore other potential impacts and influencing factors to help to deepen our understanding of how to help users and businesses to make the right decisions about their profile.
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