People who spend over three hours on Facebook daily have relaxed privacy attitudes and are more likely to share personal information, a new study has found.
Heavy social network users read daily about their friends and the world, spurring them to post more themselves on the social networking site, as well as share more during off-line encounters.
“People sometimes do not realise the powerful socialising role of social media. We might not realise that it is affecting how we are seeing information disclosure in the real world, and how it is also impacting us to then disclose our own personal information,” said Mina Tsay-Vogel, assistant professor at Boston University in the US.
The study analysed five year’s worth of surveys from 2,789 18-to-25-year-old students in the US.
Researchers surveyed students between 2010 and 2015, asking them about their Facebook habits and their attitudes toward privacy and government regulation in order to discern patterns in their behaviour and attitudes about sharing information on Facebook.
This multi-year look at the same age group gave researchers more insights into user’s attitudes than a one-time snapshot, Tsay-Vogel said.
The data showed that heavier users of Facebook, defined as being on a social network for more than the sample average of 3.17 hours a day, had more relaxed privacy attitudes and were more likely to share personal information.
This suggests that these users develop an expectation that disclosing information is part of the online culture. Heavier users also showed more support for a governmental role in privacy protection.
“If you are using Facebook a lot, it can make you more relaxed in your privacy attitudes. But for heavier versus light users, we are seeing different patterns. Heavier user’s risk perceptions actually increase, but light user’s stayed relatively stable over the five years,” she said.
The study also found that Facebook was used fewer hours a day on average as the years went on, and as other networks, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, grew.
The study appears in the journal New Media and Society.