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Privacy Concerns

98 Percent of College Students Gave Up Their Best Friend's Email for Free Pizza

While people say they care about privacy, that's apparently limited to their own.
98 Percent of College Students Gave Up Their Best Friend's Email for Free Pizza
Image credit: Shutterstock
2 min read

Is your best friend’s privacy more important than pizza? Don’t be afraid to say no -- you’re not alone.

While 60 percent of Americans say they would never feel comfortable sharing their email contacts, throw in a cheesy, greasy pie and that notion disappears. A recent study of 3,108 MIT students found that a whopping 98 percent of college students gave up their best friend’s email address when they were promised a free slice of pizza.

Related: 5 Fundamentals for Protecting Your Identity and Your Privacy

But you don’t necessarily need pizza in order to get students to cough up their friends’ information -- in fact, many needed no incentive at all. The study sampled two groups of students -- an incentivized group and a non-incentivized group. While 98 percent of the incentivized group gave up their friends’ contact info for pizza, 94 percent of students from the non-incentivized group also willingly gave up their friends’ email addresses despite not being offered free pizza. A cautious 6 percent of students from the non-incentivized group provided fake emails of their friends in order to protect their identities.

Related: 8 Steps to Creating Stronger Passwords

Today, nearly three quarters of people in the U.S. say it’s very important to be in control of who has access to their information. This study shows that there’s a major disparity between people’s beliefs and their actions. The results show that people either overstate how much they care about privacy or they do care but they make rushed decisions online without thinking about future consequences, Christian Catalini, one of the study’s researchers told MarketWatch.

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