DOI: 10.1287/isre.2021.0379 ISSN: 1047-7047

Enhancing User Privacy Through Ephemeral Sharing Design: Experimental Evidence from Online Dating

Yumei He, Xingchen Xu, Ni Huang, Yili Hong, De Liu
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Management Information Systems

In the dynamic world of online dating, a key challenge faced by platforms is the cold-start problem, where newly matched users are hesitant to engage due to privacy concerns. Our solution, ephemeral sharing, addresses this by balancing privacy with the need for personal information sharing. This feature allows personal photos to disappear and become untraceable soon after being viewed, reassuring users about their privacy. We conducted a large-scale randomized experiment with more than 70,000 users to evaluate the impact of ephemeral sharing. The results are compelling: users who could share ephemeral photos were more likely to send personal images alongside with their matching request, especially those with human faces, leading to more matches and higher engagement. Significantly, this effect was more pronounced among users who are more sensitive to their privacy. Furthermore, ephemeral sharing was found to reduce users’ concerns related to data collection, dissemination, and identity misuse, thereby increasing the willingness to share personal information. This approach not only enhances user privacy but also stimulates more active engagement on the platform. For dating platforms and similar platforms, adopting ephemeral sharing can revolutionize user experience. It provides a strategic advantage by boosting user personal information sharing and enhancing privacy, crucial for maintaining meaningful communication in online dating. This feature represents a significant step forward in designing user-centric, privacy-conscious platforms.

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