Forget Sarahah app, a friend can leak your private information even for a pizza: Research

By: | Updated: September 6, 2017 10:53 AM

You will be surprised to know people can dump privacy concerns even for a reward as small as a free pizza.

privacy paradox, privacy research, sarahah app, privacy for pizza, stanford, mit research, privacy news, what is privacy paradoxResearchers have exposed the privacy paradox often practiced by people. (Image: IE)

Recently viral Saraha app raised fears of people’s private data being leaked on the internet. A report by The Intercept had said the anonymous messaging app was secretly uploading users’ information from their computers to its own servers. Even as fears were raised, there was no let down soon in the number of users jumping on the Sarahah bandwagon.

All viral apps come in the web world with simultaneous privacy fears but the latter doesn’t always stop people from using them, hinting at the privacy paradox – that is the difference between people’s privacy preferences and the actual privacy choices they make in their lives. Now, a research has empirically proven this.

You will be surprised to know people can dump privacy concerns even for a reward as small as a free pizza.

One of the co-authors of the research, Susan Athey, a senior fellow at Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR), says people don’t seem “willing” to take either expensive or even small actions to preserve their privacy. But people express “frustration, unhappiness or dislike” of losing the privacy, siepr.standford.edu reported.

The researchers – Athey, Christian Catalini and Catherine Tucker of MIT, empirically explored privacy paradox after MIT launched a project in 2014 to “encourage experimentation with Bitcoin by MIT graduates”.

As part of the research, they examined how 3,108 undergraduates dealt with their privacy preferences while choosing an online wallet to store and manage Bitcoin, the digital currency. The study found that privacy preferences of undergraduates went for a toss as even those, who had voiced privacy concerns earlier, behaved like those for whom privacy was of no concern.

What is more interesting is the fact that “an overwhelming majority” of undergraduates were ready to disclose private email addresses of three friends for a single pizza. Not only this, issues like gender and personal sensitivities didn’t seem to have any effect on their choice, the researchers found.

“Whereas people say they care about privacy, they are willing to relinquish private data quite easily when incentivized to do so,” the researchers concluded.

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