Sep 06 2008

Why Are Brazilians More Concerned About Online Privacy and Security Than Indians?

Here are some highlights from a survey conducted by research firm Synovate amongst 13,000 respondents aged 18-65 in Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the US (via eMarketer) —

– Only 42% of the respondents knew about social networking, even though a higher percentage of younger respondents were aware of social networking.

– Only 26% of the respondents were members of any social network. Some markets (like India) seemed to favor multiple memberships and some seemed to stick to one or two major ones.

– 51% of the respondents expressed concerns about privacy and security issues online. Brazilians (79%) and Americans (69%) were most concerned about such issues while Indians (19%) were the least concerned. Amongst members of social networking sites, only 26% were comfortable giving out personal details. Indians (57%) were amongst those most comfortable sharing personal details while Brazilians (23%) and Americans (30%) were amongst those least comfortable.

– Most respondents who are members of social networking sites have a balanced on- and offline life and believe that the virtual world of social networking can complement relationships, but not replace them.

I was really surprised that Brazilians and Indians have totally opposite attitudes about online privacy and security, given that Social networking users in both countries have an early adopter bias and the Geert Hofstede cultural dimensions scores for both countries are more or less similar. Then I realized that attitudes about online privacy and security are directly linked to the uncertainty avoidance scores for these countries. Brazil is a high uncertainty avoidance culture (with a score of 76), so Brazilians are understandably more concerned about online privacy and security compared to the low uncertainty avoidance Indians (with a score of 40). USA is also a low uncertainty avoidance culture (with a score of 45), but its deeper social networking penetration means that people other than early adopters are using social networks, and therefore the higher privacy and security concerns are not surprising.

What do you think?

Update: 55% of Brazilian respondents in another survey conducted in April 2008 by AméricaEconomía and Visa said that online shopping was secure (via eMarketer). So, more Brazilians are comfortable shopping online than providing personal information on social networking sites. Interesting.

2 responses so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,Culture,Gaurav Mishra,India,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Why Are Brazilians More Concerned About Online Privacy and Security Than Indians?”

  1. Ben Turner on 09 Sep 2008 at 12:37 am

    Based on the Geert Hofstede results, I agree that there’s something to the large difference between Brazil and India with regards to uncertainty avoidance. In the other dimensions, they’re fairly equal. I have not fully explored this difference, but could it have something to do with a history of fear of the government’s intrusion? Maybe India has not had to worry about that as much?

    The dimension however is not defined in such terms — it seems to suggest that uncertainty avoidance infers a desire for rule of law and stricter regulations. Would you define Brazil as having that climate?

    I looked around only briefly for information on Brazil and privacy. Interestingly I came across the Wikipedia entry for Orkut, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orkut .

    Orkut is known to be the most popular social networking site in Brazil, and according to that Wikipedia page, is the 2nd most popular in India (is this true?). So, more:

    “Initially, the common opinion was that out of the two major countries, only users in India will be interested in privacy on orkut, while Brazil, being a very open society, will not need it. In reality, the percentage of users choosing to hide their data is the same in India and Brazil. The only difference is that in Brazilian sector of orkut there is a community “Quer privacidade? Sai do orkut” (“want privacy? get out of orkut”) against other people’s privacy.”

    Why does the poll suggest Brazilians are very suspicious of privacy issues while Indians are not? Perhaps it is indeed linked to uncertainty avoidance scores. But what else could it be?

  2. João Leite on 22 Apr 2009 at 6:39 am

    As a Brazilian (I know the low scientific value of this, but…) I might suggest you to consider that Brazilians have a different conception of “online privacy”. I think that when asked about this subject Brazilians are not worried about providing personal information, rather tehy are worried about the fact that other people will have access to the huge amount of information they provide to some websites (Orkut, basically). Indians, for instance, do not display much personal information on their Orkut profiles (most of them do not even display their picture on it), whereas Brazilians provide so much information that there has been some cases of kidnapping based on Orkut profiles.

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