Self-disclosure in social networking sites

Christy Cheung (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Zach W. Y. Lee (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)
Tommy K. H. Chan (Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Publication date: 7 April 2015



The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative impacts of perceived cost, perceived benefits, and social influence on self-disclosure behaviors in social networking sites under an integrated theoretical framework.


Building upon social exchange theory and privacy calculus theory, an integrated model was developed. The model was tested empirically using a sample of 405 social networking site’s users. Users were required to complete a survey regarding self-disclosure behaviors in Facebook.


The results indicate that social influence is the factor which exhibits the strongest effect on self-disclosure in social networking sites, followed by perceived benefits. Surprisingly, perceived privacy risk does not have any significant impact on self-disclosure.

Research limitations/implications

The results inform researchers about the importance to incorporate social influence factors and cultural factors into future online self-disclosure study.

Practical implications

The results suggest that users focus on the benefits as well as social influence when they decide to reveal personal information in social networking sites, but pay less attention to the potential privacy risks. Educators are advised to launch educational programs to raise students’ awareness to the potential risks of self-disclosure in social networking sites. Service providers of social networking sites are encouraged to provide intuitive privacy indices showing users the levels of privacy protection.


This paper is one of the first to develop and empirically tests an integrated model of self-disclosure in social networking sites.



The authors acknowledge with gratitude the generous support of the Hong Kong Baptist University for the project (FRG2/10-11/102) without which the timely production of the current publication would not have been feasible.


Cheung, C., Lee, Z. and Chan, T. (2015), "Self-disclosure in social networking sites", Internet Research, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 279-299.

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