Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm

Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm

Chiung-wen ("Julia") Hsu (National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-012-7.ch010
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter introduces a situational paradigm as a means of studying online privacy. It argues that data subjects are not always opponent to data users. They judge contexts before disclosing information. This chapter proves it by examining online privacy concerns and practices with two contexts: technology platforms and users’ motivations. It explores gratifications of online photo album users in Taiwan, and finds the distinctive “staging” phenomenon under the theory of uses and gratifications, and a priori theoretical framework, the spectacle/performance paradigm. The users with “diffused audience” gratifications are concerned less about privacy but not disclose more of their information. Furthermore, it finds that users act differently in diverse platforms, implying that studying Internet as a whole is problematic. The author proposes that studying online privacy through the use of a situational paradigm will help better research designs for studying privacy, and assist in understanding of users’ behaviors among technology platforms.
Chapter Preview


The common assumptions of the online privacy concerns literature claim that net users who have higher privacy concerns disclose less information and that data subjects are always adversarial to data users. Thus, researchers with these assumptions ignore online environments, take privacy concerns as privacy practices, and follow the off-line literature reviews to study what kind of persons (demographical variables) are concerned more about their privacy. This is called the adversarial paradigm, which does not take social contexts into account (Hine & Eve, 1998; Hsu, 2006; Raab & Bennett, 1998).

What does go wrong for online privacy research with an adversarial paradigm? Researchers fail to explain why users asserting to have higher privacy concerns still disclose sensitive information and fail to verify why some claim that those belonging to particular demographical variables are concerned more about privacy, which is not always the case in other research studies. Thus, researchers instead have to find more social contexts which are essential to users’ privacy concerns and practices on the Internet as well as study what makes users disclose more of their information—the so-called situational paradigm (Hsu, 2006; Raab & Bennett, 1998).

In this study, the author tries to find more proofs for the main argument of the situational paradigm, in which assumption is human relativism—a new approach for examining online privacy especially for the newly-emergence phenomena. What are the newly-emerging phenomena on the Internet? The author raises an example of online photo Web sites. Online photo album Web sites were originally started for sharing digital memories with friends and relatives. This trend is encouraged by commercial online photo album Web sites which provide “free or fee” spaces. In Taiwan, online photo albums (usually with additional blog functions) are also popular among Internet users.

As a communication scholar, the author alleges that communication is a post-disciplinary “in which the rigid walls of disciplinarity are replaced with bridges (Streeter, 1995).” Online privacy is such an interdisciplinary topic, whereby communication could contribute with others. Given that the Internet is a mass media (Morris & Ogan, 1996), the author assumes that uses and gratification theory may pave the way for a situational paradigm in online privacy research. The study suggests that media use is motivated by needs and goals that are defined by audiences themselves, and that active participation in the communication process may assist, limit, or influence the gratifications associated with exposure. Thus, different goals lead to diverse participation and gratification. Current online privacy research seldom takes users’ motivations of Internet behaviors into account. How do these different uses, motivations, and gratification influence their online privacy concerns and privacy practices? This is necessary subject to investigate.

In addition to normal usage of online photo albums, there is a distinct “staging” or “performing” phenomenon in Taiwan. For example, I-Ren Wang, a now-famous celebrity, was recruited as an anchor by TVBS, a cable news network, due to her incredible popularity on the largest online photo album, Wretch (Jhu & Yung, 2006). Other girls, such as “Cutiecherry” and “Fing,” were invited to participate in noted TV programs and turned into commercial stars.

For the majority of Internet users who have not yet become celebrity, they may enjoy having a reputation among users, getting on a popular list, or being discussed on the online chat system and BBS. It also seems that online photo album Web sites have developed into a “stage” for those who want to become stars and celebrities. This implies that the motivations for some online photo album (a new media use context) users are quite different from net users in previous studies.

Online photo album users are more like diffused audiences, the concept from the spectacle/ performance paradigm (SPP) (Abercrombie & Longhurst, 1998). Adopting the diffused audience cycle into the online photo album context, some users are drenched with mediascapes, integrate what they learned from the mediascapes into everyday life, and perform them for users’ own visibility. Others are drenched with mediascapes that facilitate discussions and help to attach themselves to some idols. No matter what purpose users hold, after they achieve a certain level of narcissism, they turn their attention to getting further media drenching and performance.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Table of Contents
Kuanchin Chen, Adam Fadlalla
Chapter 1
Andrew Pauxtis
What began as simple homepages that listed favorite Web sites in the early 1990’s have grown into some of the most sophisticated, enormous... Sample PDF
Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion
Chapter 2
Angelena M. Secor
In this chapter, consumer online privacy legal issues are identified and discussed. Followed by the literature review in consumer online privacy... Sample PDF
A Taxonomic View of Consumer Online Privacy Legal Issues, Legislation, and Litigation
Chapter 3
Hy Sockel, Louis K. Falk
There are many potential threats that come with conducting business in an online environment. Management must find a way to neutralize or at least... Sample PDF
Online Privacy, Vulnerabilities, and Threats: A Manager's Perspective
Chapter 4
Thejs Willem Jansen
Governments and large companies are increasingly relying on information technology to provide enhanced services to the citizens and customers and... Sample PDF
Practical Privacy Assessments
Chapter 5
Leszek Lilien, Bharat Bhargava
Any interaction—from a simple transaction to a complex collaboration—requires an adequate level of trust between interacting parties. Trust includes... Sample PDF
Privacy and Trust in Online Interactions
Chapter 6
Huong Ha, Ken Coghill
The current measures to protect e-consumers’ privacy in Australia include (i) regulation/legislation; (ii) guidelines; (iii) codes of practice; and... Sample PDF
Current Measures to Protect E-Consumers' Privacy in Australia
Chapter 7
Anil Gurung, Anurag Jain
Individuals are generally concerned about their privacy and may withhold from disclosing their personal information while interacting with online... Sample PDF
Antecedents of Online Privacy Protection Behavior: Towards an Integrative Model
Chapter 8
Alan Rea, Kuanchin Chen
Protecting personal information while Web surfing has become a struggle. This is especially the case when transactions require a modicum of trust to... Sample PDF
Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?
Chapter 9
Bernadette H. Schell, Thomas J. Holt
This chapter looks at the literature—myths and realities—surrounding the demographics, psychological predispositions, and social/behavioral patterns... Sample PDF
A Profile of the Demographics, Psychological Predispositions, and Social/Behavioral Patterns of Computer Hacker Insiders and Outsiders
Chapter 10
Chiung-wen ("Julia") Hsu
This chapter introduces a situational paradigm as a means of studying online privacy. It argues that data subjects are not always opponent to data... Sample PDF
Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm
Chapter 11
Tom S. Chan
While delivering content via the Internet can be efficient and economical, content owners risk losing control of their intellectual property. Any... Sample PDF
Online Consumer Privacy and Digital Rights Management Systems
Chapter 12
Betty J. Parker
Marketing practices have always presented challenges for consumers seeking to protect their privacy. This chapter discusses the ways in which the... Sample PDF
Online Privacy and Marketing: Current Issues for Consumers and Marketers
Chapter 13
Suhong Li
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the current status of online privacy policies of Fortune 100 Companies. It was found that 94% of the... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Online Privacy Policies of Fortune 100 Companies
Chapter 14
Andy Chiou
In this chapter, the authors will briefly discuss some cross cultural concerns regarding Internet privacy. The authors believe that due to the cross... Sample PDF
Cross Cultural Perceptions on Privacy in the United States, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan
Chapter 15
Sean Lancaster
Biometrics is an application of technology to authenticate users’ identities through the measurement of physiological or behavioral patterns. The... Sample PDF
Biometric Controls and Privacy
Chapter 16
G. Scott Erickson
This chapter focuses on the specific issue of the federal Freedom of Information Act and associated state and local freedom of information laws.... Sample PDF
Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations
Chapter 17
Charles O’Mahony
This chapter will discuss the legal framework for consumer and data protection in Europe. Central to this discussion will be the law of the European... Sample PDF
The Legal Framework for Data and Consumer Protection in Europe
Chapter 18
Karin Mika
This chapter provides an overview of law relating to online and Internet medical practice, data protection, and consumer information privacy. It... Sample PDF
Cybermedicine, Telemedicine, and Data Protection in the United States
Chapter 19
J. Michael Tarn
This chapter explores the current status and practices of online privacy protection in Japan. Since the concept of privacy in Japan is different... Sample PDF
Online Privacy Protection in Japan: The Current Status and Practices
About the Contributors