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Triggers and motivators of privacy protection behavior on Facebook

Linda Alkire (McCoy College of Business, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Johannes Pohlmann (Ketchum Pleon GmbH, Duesseldorf, Germany)
Willy Barnett (Delta Airlines, Atlanta, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 24 April 2019

Issue publication date: 2 May 2019



Internet user privacy risks have been a topical subject with respect to consumers, corporations and governments. In line with the recent privacy scandals linked to social media, the aim of this study is to explore users’ privacy protection behaviors (PPB) on Facebook through the actions they take to protect their privacy, their underlying motives and the values behind these protective actions. Moreover, this study aims to address an unintended consequence of Facebook usage. Despite Facebook’s positive and uplifting goal of connecting people, consumers are forced to resort to specific behaviors to protect their privacy and well-being.


This study adopts an exploratory research approach by using a well-established qualitative technique: structured laddering interviews. In total, 20 in-depth personal interviews were conducted with the Millennials.


Results show that the process of privacy protection is initiated by experiences, uncertainty and literacy, rather than threats, which leads to concerns that trigger PPBs. The most common PPBs include: “Reflection,” “Avoidance,” “Intervention,” “Restriction,” “Control,” and “Restraint.” The underlying motives for the adoption of these strategies include: “Success,” “Security,” “Social Recognition,” “A World of Peace,” “Exclusivity of Self,” “Being in Control,” “Meaning” and “True Friendship”.


The present research adopts a transdisciplinary framework to help fill the gap regarding the interplay of PPBs on Facebook, the triggers of those behaviors and their underlying motives. It contributes to the service literature and practice as it provides insights into a growing area of interest, whereas more social media channels are being created and more services are using social media strategies to engage and interact with their customers. Finally, it addresses the growing need to consider the impact of technological services, including internet and social media, on consumers’ and societies’ well-being.



Alkire, L., Pohlmann, J. and Barnett, W. (2019), "Triggers and motivators of privacy protection behavior on Facebook", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 57-72.



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