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Research Article Open Access
Internet Privacy Costs of User-Generated Content
The growing universe of user-generated content (UGC) accessible through social media platforms is raising new questions about the role and nature of privacy in the modern media environment. While preliminary studies on UGC have concerned themselves with identifying potential consequences to individual privacy as a result of user-generated content production, relatively little is currently known about the types of privacy violations actually being experienced by UGC creators. This study supports previous research indicating an ever-increasing number of UGC producers. Findings of a survey conducted at a large Mid-western university indicated that UGC creation behaviors, at least among college students, is virtually ubiquitous. The findings support the conclusion that creators of UGC are willing to pay privacy costs such as unsolicited marketing communications, and unwanted advances from acquaintances for the gains in social capital made possible by creating personally identifiable UGC online. Analysis revealed that privacy violations are related to the extent of time individuals have been contributing UGC to social media platforms. Additionally, UGC creators perceive privacy violations experienced with greater regularity more severely than those experienced less frequently.