Privacy as information access and illusory control: The case of the Facebook News Feed privacy outcry

Christopher M. Hoadley, Heng Xu, Joey J. Lee, Mary Beth Rosson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasingly, millions of people, especially youth, post personal information in online social networks (OSNs). In September 2006, one of the most popular the features of News Feed and Mini Feed, revealing no more information than before, but resulting in immediate criticism from users. To investigate the privacy controversy, we conducted a survey among 172 current Facebook users in a large US university to explore their usage behaviors and privacy attitudes toward the introduction of the controversial News Feed and Mini Feed features. We examined the degree to which users were upset by the changes, explored the reasons as to why, and examined the influences of the News Feed privacy outcry on user behavior changes. The results have demonstrated how an easier information access and an "illusory" loss of control prompted by the introduction of News Feed features, triggered users' privacy concerns. In addition to enhancing our theoretical understanding of privacy issues in the online social networks, this research is also potentially useful to privacy advocates, regulatory bodies, service providers, and marketers to help shape or justify their decisions concerning the online social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalElectronic Commerce Research and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Illusory loss of control
  • Information disclosure
  • Information privacy
  • Limited information access
  • Online social networks (OSNs)
  • Perceived information control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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