I can't believe she wrote that on Amazon! - Patterns of self-disclosure in Amazon reviews
As online product reviews become ubiquitous, more individuals increasingly write and rely on them. In an effort to share their experiences and opinions about a product, do individuals share private and sensitive information in online reviews? Sensitive information disclosure online exposes an individual to privacy risks including deanonymization, loss of reputation, and psychological harm. This poster addresses this critical issue by examining the extent of sensitive information disclosed in Amazon.com’s product reviews. We also explore if disclosure of real name, location, type of products and the nature of reviewer affects the extent of sensitive information disclosed in the reviews. We crawled Amazon.com and gathered all online reviews posted for six products that pertained to weight loss, anti-aging, sex-related, fragrance, baby care and electronic goods. This resulted in 3485 reviews, which were text-analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) analysis. Then, data processed through LIWC were further analyzed with descriptive statistics, discriminant analysis and ANOVA techniques. We find that Amazon’s reviewers disclose higher levels of sensitive information in the following categories: family, humans, positive emotions, negative emotions, sadness, cognitive mechanisms, concerns related to work, achievements, leisure and money. Users who used real name and disclosed their location revealed more personal information about sadness, health, and concerns related to achievements, and less about leisure concerns. The sensitivity of information disclosed was a function of the type of product reviewed. Finally, occasional and non-professional reviewers provided higher level of sensitive information, perhaps as a way to increase their participation in the Amazon community.