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Does this App ask for too much data?: the role of privacy perceptions in user behavior towards Facebook applications and permission dialogs

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Abstract

Since Facebook has opened its platform to third-party developers, privacy concerns surrounding applications are mounting. By granting “permission” to an app request, users allow app providers to circumvent their privacy settings endangering their own privacy and that of their friends. Considering a rising use of Facebook apps and a paucity of research in this area, there is a pressing need to understand the rationale behind user acceptance of applications on Facebook and the role of different information items requested in this process. This study draws on experimental and survey findings gained on the basis of responses of 199 Facebook users. We find that users are affected by the number of information items included in a “permission” request, even though their concerns can be weakened by peer influence. Users tend to be particularly cautious when granting access to information of their friends, which rejects the assumption of “privacy egoism”. Exploratory Factor Analysis reveals that in terms of privacy concerns users tend to categorize requested information items across five major clusters - friends’, social, extended CV, basic CV and visual information. Our findings are relevant for Facebook page owners who employ applications to increase user engagement and learn more about their audience.