A number of seemingly free services, such as Facebook and Google, are in fact monetizing on the users’ personal data. In other words, the users are paying with data for the service. An alternative to paying with data is to pay with money and in return have the personal data protected. The preference between the two choices is still unclear. Using a large-scale global survey, we investigate individuals’ choice preference between paying with money and with data for a well-known social networking site and take a cultural perspective to explain the observed national variations. We found uncertainty avoidance and power distance to be most influential cultural values to the studied privacy preference, and in particular, individuals from countries that are highly uncertainty avoiding and have large power distance have a stronger preference to pay with money to protect their data privacy.

Authors: Zhiying Cui, Florian von Wangenheim, Daryna Kolesnyk and Martijn de Jong