Monday, May 05, 2008

Facebook Trust

Aside from the privacy issues, there is a discussion forum taking place with Stanford students on the psychology of facebook looking at "high-trust contexts" in Facebook. Beeb has recently written an article on this project:

"A group of students at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley have turned their attention towards a unique course that blends popular culture with the more time-worn principles of psychology. The Psychology of Facebook is the brainchild of Professor B J Fogg, a pioneering persuasion psychologist who founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford.

He says: "When Facebook came along I was one of the developers at the launch and what struck me was how there was this new form of persuasion. This mass interpersonal persuasion."

The latest discussion focuses on high-contextualised trust:

"These are the high-level questions we should strive to answer to understand how trust works. The materials address one or more of these questions:
  1. What Defines and Affects Trust?
  2. How Do We Act in a Trusted vs. Untrusted Environment?

  3. How Does Trust Level Compare on Facebook vs. Internet vs. "Real World"

  4. Trust Creation: Slow, Gradual, Painstaking

  5. Trust Destruction: Instant, Deadly, Spectacular

Trust as a Function of "Perception of Risk

One way to think about trust is by examining the flipside - potential downside of opening up and sharing. Trusted environment is one where our perception of risk (something bad happening) is low. Untrusted environment is one we perceive as dangerous in some way. What could affect the perception of risk:

Anonymity vs. accountability for your actions

  • Your demographics / psychographic profile (compare Gen Y vs. Boomers)
  • Comfort with the environment (sense of control)
  • Strength & number of connections (social proof is critical to trust creation)
  • Social pressure to participate (downside of being excluded)
  • Understanding the potential abuse and how to prevent it
  • Predictability of the environment"

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