Why Don’t People Protect Their Online Privacy?

It’s a paradox: Most people say they are very concerned about their privacy online but few do anything about it.

Our online behaviour suggests we have other priorities than privacy, even when digital platforms are caught trading user information without consent.

In this video, Shamel Addas, an associate professor and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Digital Technology at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, explains why people choose not to take action to protect online privacy. Procrastination and the desire for customized service are often cited reasons but “learned helplessness” is also at play, says Prof. Addas. This is the conditioned state of mind in which people feel they can’t do anything to change their circumstances.

To fight this, Prof. Addas says people should develop “learned optimism” to develop greater confidence in taking action. He also offers a series of actions users can take to better protect their private information when visiting websites and to be more mindful as web browsers.