“We, three brothers have always known everything of each other”: A Cross-cultural Study of Sharing Digital Devices and Online Accounts

Authors: Mahdi Nasrullah Al-Ameen (Utah State University), Huzeyfe Kocabas (Utah State University), Swapnil Nandy (Jadavpur University), Tanjina Tamanna (University of Dhaka)

Volume: 2021
Issue: 4
Pages: 203–224
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/popets-2021-0067

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Abstract: Although many technologies assume that a device or an account would be used by a single user, prior research has found that this assumption may not hold true in everyday life. Most studies conducted to date focused on sharing a device or account with the members in a household. However, there is a dearth in existing literature to understand the contexts of sharing devices and accounts, which may extend to a wide range of personal, social, and professional settings. Further, people’s sharing behavior could be impacted by their social background. To this end, our paper presents a qualitative study with 59 participants from three different countries: Bangladesh, Turkey, and USA, where we investigated the sharing of digital devices (e.g., computer, mobile phone) and online accounts, in particular, financial and identity accounts (e.g., email, social networking) in various contexts, and with different entities - not limited to the members in a household. Our study reveals users’ perceptions of risks while sharing a device or account, and their access control strategies to protect privacy and security. Based on our analysis, we shed light on the interplay between users’ sharing behavior and their demographics, social background, and cultural values. Taken together, our findings have broad implications that advance the PETS community’s situated understanding of sharing devices and accounts.

Keywords: Privacy, Interview, Cross-cultural Study, Digital Devices, Online Accounts, Shared Use

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