Monday, 8 December 2008

Cypriot Teenagers Revealing Personal Information in Facebook: Research Presented in 7th European Conference on E-Learning

On November 7, 2008 the New Media lab presented research at the 7th European Conference on E-Learning (ECEL). The research examined 'How much Personal and Sensitive Information do Cypriot Teenagers Reveal in Facebook?' The study showed that Cypriot teenagers disclose personal information about themselves and do not keep their Facebook settings on private, oblivious to the dangers that result from these actions.
The premise of this research came from the raising awareness that web-based social networks have become increasingly popular over the past few years. With over 60 million active users worldwide, Facebook has become a major meeting portal for people of all ages, especially teenagers. This network offers attractive means for communication and interaction, but also raises security and privacy concerns.
Previous studies that have proven that young people are aware of what type of personal data they disclose in social networking environments reveal not only a high level of concern but also a high level of ignorance. Major concerns revolve around the possibility of sexual predators and pedophiles finding and then assaulting adolescents who carelessly or unwittingly reveal identifiable information on their personal profile pages. Nevertheless, privacy concerned individuals join networks and reveal a great amount of personal information. For example, although members are concerned about privacy issues in Facebook they are willing to share identifying information and develop new relationships where the perceived privacy level is weak. Moreover, only a minimal percentage of users change the highly permeable privacy preferences.
However, currently no research is available concerning numbers, behavior, and perceptions of young Cypriot people using Facebook. In the context of the European safer Internet project “EU Kids Online,” this study explored how the youth of Cyprus use social networking sites, on the example of Facebook.
The New Media Lab of CNTI evaluated the amount of information youngsters disclose in Facebook and studied their usage of the site's privacy settings. They sought to empirically ascertain the types of information Cypriot youth are publicly posting through an extensive content analysis of randomly selected Facebook profile pages. For each member, various types of disclosed personal and sensitive information were analyzed, for example name, gender, profile picture, and contact information. Other parameters involved quantification of activities published, such as number of personal photos uploaded, membership in groups etc.
Preliminary results show that Cypriot Facebook youth members are also willing to share personal information as the majority of the participants published their full name, gender, birthday and hometown. In addition, Cypriot youth actively use Facebook and its possibilities with activities such as joining groups, supporting causes, and using applications. Surprisingly, Cypriots are less likely to disclose contact details.

Paper Citation:
Taraszow, T., Arsoy, A., Shitta, G., & Laouris, Y. (2008, Nov). How much Personal and Sensitive Information do Cypriot Teenagers reveal in Facebook? Proceedings of the 7th European Conference on E-Learning, Ayia Napa, Cyprus.

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