The Effect of Nudges and Boosts on Browsing Privacy in a Naturalistic Environment

Abstract

During everyday web browsing and search users reveal many pieces of private information to third parties. Even though people report being concerned about their privacy online, they often do not take steps to protect it. This is known as the ‘privacy paradox’ in the literature. In this work we study two well-known strategies based on theories from the behavioral sciences, nudging and boosting, which encourage users to browse in a way that their private data are less exposed. First, an online survey (N=127) tested the comprehensibility and efficacy of various facts (boosts), before the most effective of these were evaluated against ‘nudge’ interventions previously shown to be efficacious in lab-studies. A three week naturalistic study (N=68) using a browser extension revealed that both nudges and boosts improve browsing privacy, as approximated by different measures. Boosts are also shown to improve user knowledge about privacy in the short term, but the benefit weakens over time.

Publication
Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval
Anna-Marie Ortloff
Anna-Marie Ortloff
Ph.D. Student