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How We Can Be Manipulated Into Sharing Private Information Online

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Researchers at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev showed that by using digital "foot-in-the-door" techniques, websites can successfully entice users to reveal more of their private information.


Researchers at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) found online users are more likely to expose private information based on the structuring of website forms.

BGU's Lior Fink said, "We are able to cause smartphone and PC users of online services to disclose more information by measuring the likelihood that they sign-up for a service simply by manipulating the way information items [name, address, email] were presented."

The BGU team worked with online bank Rewire to demonstrate that digital "foot-in-the-door" methods, like requesting personal information beginning with less-important items before requesting more private information, can coax users into revealing more private data.

Pacing each request on consecutive, separate webpages also encourages data exposure, and sites can further manipulate users by diffusing information requests over several pages.

BGU's Naama Ilany-Tzur said, "The general public and regulators should be made aware of these vulnerabilities, since it is so easy to capture more private information, despite their privacy concerns."

From Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel)
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