Interview with Dr. Yongick Jeong about Privacy Concerns on Social Media

by Cristian Flores, Margaret Babia, Reinhard Siedenburg

Dr. Yongick Jeong is a professor at Louisiana State University who specializes in advertising, news and entertainment media, and measuring advertising effectiveness. Having published several research papers and presentations for almost a decade now, Jeong is an established advertising scholar. His research covers a wide range of topics from measuring advertising effectiveness, digital and social media, health and environmental communication, to international communication.

On October 18, 2022, we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Jeong for an interview on Zoom to ask him questions about his 2016 research study: Privacy Concerns On Social Networking Sites: Interplay Among Posting Types, Content, and Audiences. From our interview, we were able to gain a more solid comprehension of the way privacy concerns relating to social media are influenced by the different audiences found on each platform. Additionally, we were given valuable advice relating to the logistics of conducting our own research study.

Dr. Yongick Jeong is actually an alumnus of California State University, Fullerton, having received his M.A. in Communications with a concentration in Internet Advertising in 2003. Being able to connect with Dr. Jeong through our educational backgrounds was a great experience, and we had a wonderful time getting to know his friendly and supportive personality. As beginner researchers, we greatly appreciated this opportunity to learn and expand our knowledge with Dr.Jeong.


What motivated your study?

At that time, social media was important already and many people were using social media platforms, but back then – not many people really knew about the privacy aspect of social media. In 2016, it was the beginning or earlier stages of social media and social networking sites, and we wanted to know what people were worried about regarding those social platforms. For the study, we used the uses & gratification theory (UGT) to understand why & how people actively seek out different media in order to satisfy their specific needs. We were looking to discover the different purposes or motivations there are behind people using social media and we wanted to see the relationship between those different motivations and privacy concerns.

What were some challenges and difficulties with your study, that you would say to keep a look out for? In terms of conducting the survey and getting the participants.

During the study, we experienced an external validity issue because our target for the study were college students. Even though college students are primary users of social media sites, they may be different from others in the general population who also use social media such as people are 30yr-40yr olds. That was the biggest limitation of the study.

What methods did you debate between using, and why did you end up going with an online survey? Were there any limitations in regard to other methods?

The deciding factor for your research method will be the research questions you come up with for your study. For us, an online survey was chosen specifically because it was the best fit for our research question regarding social media.

Why were Twitter and Facebook the chosen SNS’s for the study v.s. Instagram and Snapchat?

At the time of the study, Facebook and Twitter were the two most popular social networking sites. They had the largest user base, so we centered the study around these platforms as opposed to Snapchat and Instagram which had not reached the popularity they have now. Even today, Facebook and Twitter are very popular platforms among the general population.

If the study took place this year with the development of SNS’s like Tik Tok becoming massive in popularity, how do you anticipate the results of the study would change? Would they change?

It is important that you know the reason why people use those social media networks specifically. At the time of the study, we knew people used Facebook for everything – even for commercial purposes. In contrast, Twitter had a very different purpose and it was being used for microblogging on an even smaller scale. If the study were to take place today, the research question would need to be modified and the variables would need to be changed depending on the social media networking sites you choose to conduct the study on. In order to decide on what needs to be modified, understanding what demographics primarily use social networks like Tik Tok and for what purpose will be key. Logistically, it will be essential to decide what social media network is popular right now so that you can find enough users for the study.

What are some methods you used in your study to reduce response bias? 

Actually, the survey we conducted was given as an extra-credit opportunity for our undergrad students. Research bias was pretty hard to detect in the study. Additionally, we did not include any checkpoints in the study that would check if participants were paying attention while they were taking the survey. If we were to give an example, during the survey we would have given a random question to participants where they would have to read the prompt thoroughly to find which random answer is the correct answer. If they answered that question incorrectly, then we would filter out their response. If the right answer is not chosen, then it is clear the respondents are not paying attention and the response can be eliminated.

In the discussion section of the article, you mentioned a potential limitation of your study was the skewed sample size of the study. Because a majority of participants were women, there was no balance of gender. How do you anticipate the results might change if the sample size was more balanced by gender?

In that instance, you would go with stratified sampling. If you conduct research with a general population of college students, you would need to get an accurate percentage of how many seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen there are. From the proportional distribution, you are able to get your sample. The best case scenario would be that you know what percentage of Facebook users fall under each gender and category. After, you should be able to gather data that will represent the general population accurately, despite most participants being college students.

Being based around posts on social media, what is your opinion on gathering data over the span of 3 different social media platforms (Tik Tok, Snapchat, Instagram) v.s. just one platform?

Keep in mind, each social networking site is very different categorically. It is important to ensure that the networking sites you choose to focus on in the study are relevant to the research questions and will provide valuable insight for research. The complication with focusing a study around more than 2 social networking sites is the volume of questions that would need to be covered in the study. For a study of that scale, it would be difficult to have participants actively engage throughout the study without compensation.