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Instant Messaging (IM) has evolved into an important tool for collaborative work. It supports informal near-synchronous communication and fosters awareness of the online presence of one's communication partners. Like all awareness systems, IM runs into concerns regarding privacy. Drawing upon prior literature and exploratory interviews, the authors postulate a model that posits impression management as an underlying cause for privacy desires of IM users. They verify the hypotheses using linear structural modeling on data from a large online survey of IM users across the U.S. The model establishes that the desire for privacy in IM arises due to the desire for impression management (both directly, as well as indirectly through the desire for visibility of one's impression to oneself).
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