“Those blimmin Ts and Cs”: a mixed methods analysis of how people manage personal information, privacy, and impressions

Anouk Mols*, Jorge Pereira Campos, João Fernando Ferreira Gonçalves

*Corresponding author for this work

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Interconnected and smart technologies complicate personal information management (PIM) because users delegate the storing, organizing, and retrieving of personal information to smart and mobile service providers. Meta-level PIM activities are required to maintain the privacy and security of personal information. This study provides insights into how users of location tracking, mobile apps, and smart home technologies perceive PIM and privacy. We turn to the privacy as contextual integrity (CI) and impression management (IM) literatures to explore informational norms and interpersonal dynamics in PIM. This study is based on a mixed methods design to analyze focus groups and interviews with 106 British and Dutch respondents. Combining unsupervised Latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) topic modeling and thematic analysis, we reveal discursive patterns in respondent accounts of technology use and provide an in-depth interpretation of these patterns. Our findings indicate that PIM practices are associated with the perceived appropriateness of information flows, anthropomorphic interpretations of technologies, and interpersonal surveillance. Thus, impressions are managed toward social actors as well as technology providers. We contribute to PIM research with a demonstration of how PIM in mobile, smart, and location-based technology use cannot be separated from contextual factors and strategies to manage impressions of habits and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2024

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© 2024 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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