Keep your friends close, especially if you're in college. You won't really know who among your pals will be willing to give up your privacy for a cheap price—a slice of pizza.
People are now more careful of who they give their personal information to, and rightfully so. 74% of people in the US, for example, say that it's important to them to be in control of their personal information. This means that they want to be able to keep certain things about themselves private. 60% of the respondents, meanwhile, say that they would rather not share their email address with others.
Thus, it's clear that our personal information is important to us, and we'd prefer to keep that information private. However, how important is another person's private information to you?
That's what researchers wanted to know when they asked college students to give out a friend's email. It turns out that someone else's privacy is worth just about as much as a slice of pizza.
It turns out that 3,108 students at MIT are more than willing to give up a friend's email address, especially if there's an incentive for doing so. Researchers offered half the participants a slice of pizza if they gave up a close friend's email address. A whopping 98% of the people in this group gave their friend's email address up quite easily.
Here's where we'd tell you that the other group, the one without the incentive of a pizza slice, refused to give the researchers their friend's email address. However, that wouldn't necessarily be true. 94% of the people in the non-incentive group still chose to give up their friend's information, even without the promise of pizza.
To be fair, 6% of the non-incentive group gave a fake email address instead so they can still protect their friend's privacy. Of course, 6% is miniscule compared to the 94% who blithely gave up their friend's information for nothing. Then again, not giving an email address was not an option. Of course, the participants could have made up a fake email instead of giving up their friend's real one.
Aside from proving how important pizza is to people, the study also sheds light on some uncomfortable truths about how we view online privacy.
The Pew Research Center has found that Americans are surprisingly lax about their cybersecurity. This is in spite of the fact that they already don't feel secure online. Their cybersecurity practices aren't actually very secure, starting from the way they manage their passwords. For example, a significant amount of people still write their passwords down on a piece of paper. According to cybersecurity experts, however, using using password management software is the best way to track and secure your passwords.
It's possible that people overstate how much they care about online privacy. It's also possible that the students in the study do care, but made a bad decision on the spot. Of course, both scenarios aren't really the best.
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