Surveying Australian Facebook User’s Attitudes towards Personal Data on Facebook

Mr Jack Sevil1

1Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, Australia

Scraping programs grant any individual the ability to search websites like Facebook, collect personal data, observe users’ real-time behaviour, and then compile this information. During these ‘data scraping’ processes, embedded metadata is also obtainable. An image uploaded to Facebook may have embedded metadata describing the upload date, location, and time, as well as the user’s name. During March of 2018, the New York Times reported a Cambridge Analytica-employed contractor had gained unauthorised access to Facebook users’ personal data. Using a ‘scraping program’, Aleksandr Kogan obtained the personal data of approximately 87 million Facebook users. This data was later sold to Cambridge Analytica, and used to create detailed profiles of Facebook users’ behaviours and identities.

A systematic review of the literature aimed to address three research questions related to Australian Facebook users’ attitudes towards a) personal data privacy on Facebook, b) personal data security on Facebook, and c) metadata generated while using Facebook. The review of the literature identified only two studies which both related to the above research questions and also comprised samples consisting of Australian residents. From the collective information, however, none of the research questions could be appropriately addressed. As such, the current study aimed to address the research questions using a sample of Australian residents and a 30-item self-developed questionnaire designed specifically for this research. This presentation will discuss those findings.


Jack Sevil completed the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s (RMIT) Bachelor of Criminology and Psychology in 2017 and will complete RMIT University’s Master of Justice and Criminology in 2019. Jack’s thesis focuses on Australian Facebook users’ attitudes towards personal data on Facebook and will be submitted to RMIT’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies during November of 2019. At the end of 2018, whilst studying for his Masters, Jack was awarded the inaugural Academic Excellence Award from the Ngarara Willim Centre at RMIT University.


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