Exploring the ethical implications of new media technologies: A survey of online platform users’ digital literacy and its effects on digital trust and privacy awareness

Jee Young LEE, Noor Al Khaldi

    Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstract


    Technologies are increasingly evolving, and over time more digital platforms emerge. As Gillespie (2010) argues, these platforms consider themselves as ‘platforms’ because they have pre-thought out aims and goals to achieve with the help of their audiences and users. These platforms use their users’ most basic information to be able to provide them with curated content that meets their needs, which in turn makes more profit for them. However, the potential uses of user data benefit such companies in ways that may not be visible to users. Recently, literacy is becoming increasingly important within the capacity to understand and control one’s personal data. The evolution of digital technology has changed the way people interact with one another. The internet, which was first used to store information, has become a way for people to connect in a virtual environment (Hamilton, 2015). Therefore, it is essential for users to understand and be aware of the critical stances of their data in terms of how and why it is used (Pangrazio and Selwyn, 2018). Lately, traditional concerns over supporting the development of ‘digital literacy’ are now being usurped by concerns over citizens’ ‘data literacies’ (Pangrazio and Selwyn, 2018). However, there is little research exploring the relationships between different digital literacy and sharing information practices. It has not been sufficiently investigated yet whether individuals prefer sharing information over their privacy; whether individuals better engage with and perceive of the information sharing online when they are better digitally literate; whether data/information literacies moderate the relationships between sharing information practices and awareness of privacy and data uses of online platforms companies. An online survey of university students (aged 19 to 30) was conducted to examine the different levels of literacy in terms of data, information, technology and social media literacy and how that affects in the differences in concerns about privacy and personal data use of online platforms. The survey link was disseminated via student bulletins and students group communities on Facebook and further with the help of instructions (tutors/ lecturers) who are teaching in the university in class or via emails. In total, 200 samples were used for the analysis in this study. The survey compromises demographics, digital technology and online platform usage, digital literacy (information, data, social media literacies), awareness/concerns of data privacy and digital trust.
    As a result, our correlation shows different relationships between different digital literacy, awareness and concerns of data privacy and digital trust. The underlying assumption was
    that if a user has higher levels of digital skills, it is more likely that he or she will have a higher degree of awareness and concerns of data privacy. In particular, the understanding content dimension of digital literacy was positively related to the awareness of information sharing and privacy, showing those who have a higher degree of understanding of online content, such as identifying prejudice or bias in media and discerning reliable information, are more likely to be aware of data privacy online. Also, the frequent engagement with information searching and interacting with others on social media was positively associated with higher levels of awareness. In terms of digital trust, information and system quality are positively related to trust in online platforms. That is, those who have a higher degree of perception of information completeness and accuracy towards online are more likely to trust in apps and platforms. While there is no significant correlation between digital literacy and digital trust, the three dimensions of digital literacy were positively associated with the perception of information and system quality. The ability to navigate, analyse, and participate in various activities online was significantly related to an understanding of information completeness and accuracy online, which in turn affects digital trust. The results of data analysis in this study highlights the significance of digital literacy in understanding the online system and data privacy, which ultimately contributes to increasing digital trust as a whole.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020
    Event70th Annual International Communication Association Conference (ICA 2020): Open Communications - Virtual Conference, Washington D.C, United States
    Duration: 20 May 202026 May 2020


    Conference70th Annual International Communication Association Conference (ICA 2020)
    Abbreviated titleICA2020
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityWashington D.C
    Internet address


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