The effects of trust, security and privacy in social networking: A security-based approach to understand the pattern of adoption

It makes a few years that Social Network Services (SNS) are involved in our daily life. We share content, keep in touch with our friends and family members and build communities around common interests with total strangers. From Myspace, to Facebook and Twitter, people login on SNS every day to take an infinite amount of actions. Facebook alone records 1.86 billion monthly active users! The heavy use of those SNS engendered many different risks. Today hackers use the easy access to information to commit fraud, identity theft and many malicious actions; those causes both users and potential users to question the level of security and privacy that SNS offers and impacts their level of trust toward those platforms.

Today, it is important for SNS to understand what pushes consumers to adopt or not their services. User’s concerns may inhibit the growth of those platforms and this why Dong-Hee Shin examined users’ perception of security, trust, and privacy concerns regarding social networking platforms and intended to elaborate an SNS acceptance model based on those factors.

After conducting an intensive literature review about technology adoption and its relevant concepts, Dong-Hee Shin created a trust-based decision-making model and tested the model by collecting data from SNS users and running a structural-equation modeling process on those data.

Beforehand, Dong-Hee Shin conducted some pre-survey interviews in order to,

(1) cross-validate factors identified from the literature;

(2) learn about context-specific factors;

(3) to guide the survey question design.

From the results of those pre-survey interviews, an actual survey was created and sent to a survey agency which gathered responses from 370 participants. The answers of this survey were then used to test the model fit. Eight common model-fit measures were used to estimate the measurement model fit and results confirmed that the anticipated theoretical model explains and predicts user acceptance of SNS substantially well.



The results demonstrated the importance of perceived security and perceived privacy when influencing users’ intentions to use SNS. The effect of trust on attitude was also supported by the results, implying that privacy mediates the relation of security on trust. 66% of the variance in trust is explained by users perceived privacy and perceived security. Trust, combined with security and privacy, explain 51% of the variance in attitude toward behavior, which subsequently explain 23% of the variance of intention.

As the paper suggests, SNS managers can learn a lot from those findings. First of all, managers need to become more and more customer centric, focusing on their trust relationship with customers through the initiation and the promotion of comprehensive privacy standards. Furthermore, SNS should make sure that the offered level of security of their services is aligned to the one that consumers expects as security affects behavioral intention through attitude. Moreover, explicit policies and data protection mechanisms are needed so that users can experience a similar level of social privacy as the one they find offline.

Overall, SNS managers needs a full understanding of the security and privacy factors that influences users’ acceptance of their networks. Only this understanding will promise a bright future to their platforms which matures in such hostile environment.



Shin, D. (2010). The effects of trust, security and privacy in social networking: A security-based approach to understand the pattern of adoption. Interacting with Computers, 22(5), pp.428-438.


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