Washington DC: As per a recent study, web design plays a role in how much we reveal online.
JRC scientists have found that web design, and the information shown on the screen, does influence how and whether a user discloses personal data.
The research used behavioural sciences to look at how individuals react to different types of privacy notices. Specifically, the authors analysed users' reactions to modified choice architecture (i.e. the environment in which decisions take place) of web interfaces.
Two types of privacy behaviour were measured: passive disclosure, when people unwittingly disclose personal information, and direct disclosure, when people make an active choice to reveal personal information. After testing different designs with over 3000 users from the UK, Italy, Germany and Poland, results show web interface affects decisions on disclosing personal information. The study also explored differences related to country of origin, gender, education level and age.
These results could offer valuable insights to inform European policy decisions, despite the fact that the study has targeted a sample of users in four countries in an experimental setting. Major web service providers are likely to have extensive amounts of data on how slight changes to their services' privacy controls affect users' privacy behaviour.
The authors of the study suggest that collaboration between web providers and policy-makers can lead to recommendations for web interface design that allow for conscientious disclosure of privacy information.