Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Julie Lane, Ph.D.


While privacy is not a new issue for Americans, the skyrocketing presence and use of technologies has altered existing notions and definitions of privacy. Although previous researchers have examined and tested privacy theories and privacy is currently being discussed by policy makers, privacy and rights advocacy groups, and online companies, individuals’ perspectives on privacy remain unknown and unheard. Therefore, this study interviewed nine individuals’ about their conceptions and perceptions of privacy in general and in the contexts of Gmail, Google, and Google, Inc. This study used inductive and deductive thematic analysis to identify and interpret patterns from participants’ interview transcriptions and evaluate how the individuals think about, understand, and expect privacy. The findings of these privacy definitions indicated three contradictions in how the participants’ conceptualize and perceive privacy: participants care about their privacy, but they aren’t worried about it; privacy definitions and expectations differ depending on the context; and privacy policies are agreed to without being read.