The contextual role of privacy concerns in online political participation

Hoffmann, C.P., & Lutz, C. (2022). The contextual role of privacy concerns in online political participation. European Journal of Communication, online first. DOI: 10.1177/02673231221139040.

Research on online political participation highlights how online platforms may facilitate or encumber political participation. In this contribution, we add to existing research on digital inequalities in online political participation by focusing on privacy concerns as a critical construct. We follow a contextual understanding of online privacy and examine a variety of online political behaviours to differentiate the distinctive roles privacy concerns play in higher- and lower-threshold forms of participation. Based on a survey of German Internet users, we find that social media use exerts a strong positive effect on political participation, especially lower-threshold forms of participation. As privacy concerns are spread quite evenly throughout the population, they contribute little to the socioeconomic stratification of online political participation. Privacy concerns relate positively to higher-threshold forms of political participation. We discuss how higher- and lower-threshold participation constitute distinct contexts for users’ considerations of privacy risks.