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Online privacy control via anonymity and pseudonym: Cross-cultural implications

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Privacy's exact nature needs to reflect the contemporary view of a society. A growing number of online users demand the protection of their personal privacy via anonymity and pseudonym. The efficacy of these two privacy controls in different online environments is unknown. This study applies social psychology theories to explore the relationship between these personal sentiments—authoritative personality, empathy, fear of negative evaluation, self-esteem, and motives of online privacy rights. We conducted a quasi-experiment by manipulating four online environments (personal e-mail exchange, members-only newsgroup, public newsgroup, and online chat room), and three user identification modes (real name, anonymity and pseudonym). More than 600 subjects from the USA and Taiwan participated in the experimental study. The results of path analysis confirm the effects of some personal sentiments on the motives of online privacy rights. The study concludes with theoretical and practical implications for the roles of privacy in the online society.
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Keywords: Authoritative personality; Cyber society; Empathy; Privacy; Pseudonym; Self-esteem

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Technology Management, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan 2: Computer Information Systems Department, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA 3: Department of Management Information System, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan 4: Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department, California State University, Fullerton, CA, USA

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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