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Recent privacy controversies surrounding social networking sites demonstrate that the mere availability of settings is not enough for effective privacy management. The authors investigated whether the aggregated privacy choices of one's social circle might guide users in making informed privacy decisions. They conducted an experiment in which users specified preferences for six privacy-relevant settings in Instant Messaging. In one condition, users were provided with information indicating the privacy preferences of the majority of their "Buddies." The results suggest that while this information did influence user choices, the effect was secondary to that of the "Privacy-sensitivity" of the system feature controlled by the particular setting.
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