The ‘privacy paradox’ in the social web: The impact of privacy concerns, individual characteristics, and the perceived social relevance on different forms of self-disclosure

Given the diffusion of the Social Web and increased disclosure of personal information online, the ‘privacy paradox’ suggests that while Internet users are concerned about privacy, their behaviors do not mirror those concerns. This study investigates the potential influence of privacy concerns, psychological traits, attitudes to the Social Web and age on self-disclosure. Using an online survey of a representative sample of German Internet users (n = 2, 739), the variety and quality of self-disclosure as well as access were measured. The findings indicate that privacy concerns hardly impact self-disclosure, but different variables moderate this relation. Perceived social relevance and the number of applications used proved important. Users’ general willingness to disclose is most important when providing sensitive information.