Privacy Controls and Content Sharing Patterns of Online Social Network Users: A Natural Experiment

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Cavusoglu, Huseyin; Phan, Tuan Quang; Cavusoglu, Hasan
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article description
We examine the relationship between privacy controls and content sharing activities in an online social network (OSN). Our identification is based on the exogenous policy change on an OSN in December 2009 that brought about granular privacy controls. Using a large panel dataset obtained from the OSN, we empirically assess the effects of the privacy policy change on wall posting and private messaging and resulting disclosure patterns based on these sharing activities. Our findings show that OSN users, on average, increase the use of wall posts and decrease the use of private messages. In addition, disclosure patterns of users change to reflect the increased openness in sharing content.