The posthumous privacy paradox: Privacy preferences and behavior regarding digital remains

Tal Morse, Michael Birnhack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scholars have observed a gap between users’ stated preferences to protect their privacy and their actual behavior. This is the privacy paradox. This article queries the persistence of the privacy paradox after death. A survey of a representative sample of Israeli Internet users inquired of perceptions, preferences, and actions taken by users regarding their digital remains. The analysis yielded three distinct groups: (1) users interested in preserving privacy posthumously but do not act accordingly; for these users, the privacy paradox persists posthumously; (2) users who match their behavior to their preferences; for these users, the privacy paradox is resolved; and (3) users interested in sharing their personal data posthumously but do not make the appropriate provisions. This scenario is the inverted privacy paradox. This new category has yet to be addressed in the literature. We present some explanations for the persistence of the posthumous privacy paradox and for the inverted privacy paradox.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Media and Society
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2020

Keywords

  • Digital legacy
  • digital remains
  • posthumous privacy
  • privacy paradox

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