“I knew it was too good to be true”: The challenges economically disadvantaged users face in assessing trustworthiness, avoiding scams, and developing self-efficacy online

Jessica Vitak, Yuting Liao, Mega Subramaniam, Priya Kumar

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9 Citations (SciVal)


In the U.S., consumers increasingly turn to the internet and mobile apps to complete essential personal transactions, ranging from financial payments to job applications. This shift to digital transactions can create challenges for those without reliable home internet connections or with limited digital literacy by requiring them to submit sensitive information on public computers or on unfamiliar websites. Using interviews with 52 families from high-poverty communities in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., we explore the compounding privacy and security challenges that economically disadvantaged individuals face when navigating online services. We describe the real, perceived, and unknown risks they face as they navigate online transactions with limited technical skills, as well as the strategies and heuristics they employ to minimize these risks. The findings highlight a complex relationship between participants’ negative experiences and their general mistrust of sharing data through online channels. We also describe a range of strategies participants use to try and protect their personal information. Based on these findings, we offer design recommendations to inform the creation of educational resources that we will develop in the next phase of this project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number176
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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