What does it mean to trust Facebook?: examining technology and interpersonal trust beliefs

  • Lankton N
  • McKnight D
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Researchers have recently studied technology trust in terms of the technological artifact itself. Two different kinds of trusting beliefs could apply to a website artifact. First, the trusting beliefs may relate to the interpersonal characteristics—competence, integrity, and benevolence. Second, they may relate to corresponding technology characteristics—functionality, reliability, and helpfulness. Since social networking websites like Facebook may demonstrate either interpersonal or technology trust characteristics, researchers may need to carefully choose the beliefs to model. Thus it is important to understand not only the conceptual meaning of these beliefs, but also whether human and technology trust beliefs are distinct. Using data collected from 362 university-student Facebook users, we test two second-order factor structures that represent alternative ways to model the three interpersonal and three technology trust beliefs. We find that the best-fitting measurement model depicts the three conceptually-related pairs of trust beliefs (competence-functionality, integrity-reliability, and benevolence-helpfulness) as three distinct second-order factors. This model outperformed the model splitting trusting beliefs into separate interpersonal and technology second-order factors. The results show people distinguish among three types of conceptually-related trust attributes, and that they trust Facebook as both a technology and a quasi-person. These second-order trust factors can be used in future research to better understand social networking trust and usage continuance intentions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Interpersonal trust
  • measurement
  • second-order factors
  • social networking
  • technology trust
  • websites

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  • Nancy K Lankton

  • D Harrison McKnight

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