Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Melissa Dark

Committee Chair

Melissa Dark

Committee Member 1

Brandeis H. Marshall

Committee Member 2

Baijian Yang


While online social networking sites have brought convenience and diversity in people's social lives, they have also been the source for information leakage. Researchers have been looking for ways to balance user privacy protection and information disclosure. However, literature suggested that many users either failed to perceive privacy risks correctly or they failed to behave in accordance with privacy awareness even they have already perceived potential risks. ^ This thesis conducted a survey to measure social network users' privacy attitude, privacy perception and their actual behavior when using social networking sites. The survey targeted at three populations of different cultural contexts: U.S. college students, Chinese students in the U.S. and Chinese students in China. It also targeted at 6 populate sites – Facebook, Twitter. WhatsApp, RenRen, Weibo and WeChat. ^ Based on the survey results, this thesis conducted a cross-cultural and cross-site study to explore the relationships of social network users' privacy attitudes, privacy perceptions and various user behaviors. It also studied whether cultural contexts and the differences of sites had an impact on privacy attitude, perception and behavior.