Nearly three-quarters of people (74%) in the U.S. believe it’s “very important” to be in control of who can get information about them and 60% say they would never feel comfortable sharing their email contacts. However, the vast majority of college students (98%) gave away their friends’ emails when promised free pizza, a recent study of 3,108 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students published the National Bureau of Economic Research found.
“Whereas people say they care about privacy, they are willing to relinquish private data quite easily when incentivized to do so,” the study’s authors write. (The study’s main focus was establishing a cryptocurrency community at MIT and measuring how students adopted the complex technology.)
However, it also included an experiment in which students were asked for the contacts of their closest friends. Half of the students were given a small incentive in the form of an order of pizza to share with friends and 98% of those shared emails. Fewer students — 94% — gave up friends’ email addresses when not given any incentives. In the non-incentivized group, 6% input fake emails to protect their friends’ identities. Not giving an email address was also not an option.
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