We also used a Communications Message Triangle to formulate the messaging for our research. The triangle had the following three key proof points that supported the key message of our research:
All three key proof points had a deflector and a transition. The deflector was a question that could be raised against any of the key points, while the transition was the response to the deflector.
By using the Message Triangle, we were able to further refine our research question and structure how the findings of our research could be shared with the general public.
30 subjects were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turks(MTurk). The subjects were pre-screened to select only those subjects who were Facebook account holders, were over 18 years of age and resided in the United States.
The subjects in both groups were told to imagine that they were creating a new Facebook account for themselves, and to choose their preferred account settings from a list of options presented to them. For subjects in the control group, the privacy settings shows were exactly similar to how Facebook currently displays them. For subjects in the experimental group, each privacy setting was accompanied with a short description of what type of user data would be accessible to different users online. The privacy settings selected by subjects in both groups was recorded. Following the activity, subjects were asked some questions to ascertain how likely they were to trust Facebook in terms of protecting their personal data.
The full study plan can be found here.
The options to the privacy questions were coded on a scale of 1-5, with 1 representing the least “restrictive” privacy settings and 5 representing the most “restrictive” privacy settings. The options were coded as follows:
We used ANOVA and the Welch’s T Two Sample Test to determine whether there was any statistical difference between the privacy settings chosen by the control and the experimental group.
Based on our analysis, we found no difference between the settings chosen by subjects in the two groups.
Making people aware about the importance of online privacy is very challenging. It is made even more difficult by the fact that it is not easy for people to perceive how their online information or data might be used in ways that they might not agree with. Our experiment showed us that merely changing the wording of settings will not make people more careful about how they share information on Facebook, and by extension, on the internet. The problem is made worse by the fact that social media platforms and apps have notoriously complicated settings, and it is difficult for the average user to dictate the terms by which their data is shared online. Ultimately, however, given how the line between our digital and physical selves is being blurred, it is crucial that there is more awareness on online privacy amongst the general public.
The full presentation for the study can be found here.