Nudging people away from privacy-invasive mobile apps through visual framing

Smartphone users visit application marketplaces (or app stores) to search and install applications. However, these app stores are not free from privacy-invasive apps, which collect personal information without sufficient disclosure or people’s consent. To nudge people away from privacy-invasive apps, we created a visual representation of the mobile app’s privacy rating. Inspired by “Framing Effects,” we designed semantically equivalent visuals that are framed in either a positive or negative way. We investigated the effect of the visual privacy rating, framing, and user rating on people’s perception of an app (e.g., trustworthiness) through two experiments. In Study 1, participants were able to understand the intended meaning of the visual privacy ratings. In Study 2, we found a strong main effect for visual privacy rating on participants’ perception of an app, and framing effects in a low privacy rating app. We discuss implications for designing visual privacy ratings, including the use of positive visual framing to nudge people away from privacy-invasive apps.