Print 8 comment(s) - last by AlphaVirus.. on Nov 27 at 1:52 PM

A recent study finds that internet users will often give up private information more easily for sites that seem trustworthy.

A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council finds that internet users will often give up more private information to websites and organizations that appear to be trustworthy.

“Even people who have previously demonstrated a high level of caution regarding online privacy will accept losses to their privacy if they trust the recipient of their personal information,” says study leader, Dr. Adam Joinson.

The project, Privacy and Self-Disclosure Online, is the first of its kind. Rather than taking the word of users, their actual habits and responses were studied using various queues, including the look and feel of websites, and how questions pertaining to personal information were phrased and the options available in such questions.

The central idea of the project was to ascertain how subjects would respond to websites that seemed more or less trustworthy. As expected, users were more apt to give up private information to websites that seemed more trustworthy, and act in a more guarded manner to websites that didn't.

In terms of how users responded to questions in particular, researchers found that if an option like “I prefer not to say” appears on the list of available choice, subjects were much less likely to disclose information. In the same token, the more broad a response could be, the wider the scale for an answer that represents their salary for instance, the more likely users offered information.

The results of the research are important for different types of internet services, government websites and social networking sites possibly topping the list. The data could help sites look more alluring to users by making them feel safer, something social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace will benefit from. In the same way, they could be used by malicious data thieves who prey on individuals not well-versed in internet scams.

“One of the most interesting aspects of our findings is that even people who genuinely have a high level of concern regarding privacy online may act in a way that is contrary to their stated attitudes when they come across a particular set of conditions,” said Dr Joinson.

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Isn't this...
By Haven Bartton on 11/26/2007 12:15:23 PM , Rating: 5
... kind of a given? I mean of course I'd never give my credits card information to a website covered in spelling errors and flashing rainbow colours for a background.

“One of the most interesting aspects of our findings is that people ... may act in a way that is contrary to their stated attitudes when they come across a particular set of conditions,” said Dr Joinson.

This is quite interesting though, I wish they were more specific about these conditions. Of course as soon as they release their findings phishing sites will adjust accordingly.

RE: Isn't this...
By 3kliksphilip on 11/26/2007 12:20:40 PM , Rating: 2
There is a kind of 'so what' factor to this investigation. Of course people will trust reputable sites more than!?kill or one covered in spelling mistakes and flashy popups. I still don't trust clicking on the links at the Daily Tech... Home should flash up if you have your mouse pointer over it. (Sorry about that, it's been annoying me for SO long)

RE: Isn't this...
By Cygni on 11/26/2007 12:27:14 PM , Rating: 5
Stunning breakthroughs also reveal water wet, sun bright.

RE: Isn't this...
By LeviBeckerson on 11/26/2007 12:33:27 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I think the point of the research was to help websites that should be trusted be more trusted. Obviously, as stated in other comments, most people aren't going to be fooled by obvious phishing schemes (note that I said most here), but building a level of trust with users is something certain websites could benefit from.

What troubles me is the Facebook/MySpace people that can do the same. Also the malicious folk that will get even better at their scams with this idea of improved human interface.

Give up privacy?
By Clauzii on 11/26/2007 5:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
How is it even possible to have privacy on the net....??

RE: Give up privacy?
By Oregonian2 on 11/26/2007 8:15:21 PM , Rating: 3
Access only IP addresses that start with,
that'll probably do it!


By Oregonian2 on 11/26/2007 1:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to be one of those "Duh!" studies.

Hmmmm.... give my name and address to or to, hmmm... tough choice....

To repeat, "duh"...

RE: eh?
By AlphaVirus on 11/27/2007 1:52:42 PM , Rating: 2
Hey I am on the market for a new computer, should I go to or

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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