An exploratory study of attitudes towards privacy in social media and the threat of blackmail: The views of a group of Saudi women

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Abstract

The Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, or the Religious Police as it is commonly known in the west, has dealt with 1834 incidents of women being blackmailed by men in 2014 and of those 22% (N= 403) were initiated using Social Network Sites (SNS). In light of the reality about these crimes, this study asked the following questions: (1) Are Saudi women concerned about their privacy in SNS? (2) Are Saudi women worried about falling victim to blackmail in SNS? (3) Do Saudi women know how to change the privacy settings in SNS? (4) Are Saudi women comfortable with communicating across gender lines in SNS? To address these questions, qualitative interviews with 16 women who used Facebook regularly and a focus group discussion with another group of 10 Saudi female students were conducted. The findings of the study show that the Saudi women interviewed appeared concerned about their privacy in Facebook, worried about falling victim to blackmail, knew how to change the privacy settings and are not comfortable with communicating across gender lines. This suggests that the participants in this study are not the likely victims of blackmail crimes. Further research is needed to understand the profile of the victims of blackmail and the root cause of these crimes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalElectronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries
Volume75
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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