When it comes to hook-up or extra-marital apps like Tinder or Gleeden, people prefer to use their email address or open a new account rather than using Facebook or other social media app logins owing to privacy fears, according to researchers led by an Indian-origin scientist.

The researchers at Penn State University said that participants in a study were willing to use their Facebook ID to access apps such as class reunion and matchmaking apps, but refused to use the same feature for an app that arranges extramarital affairs.

"The findings suggest that because people try to keep sensitive areas of their relationships separate from other parts of their lives, they may hesitate to use single sign-on services," said S Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.

Keeping networks seperate

"Even though technically one's activities on Tinder will not be visible to friends on Facebook, they seem to have a psychological fear of that happening, so they want to keep their social networks separate and not have them bleed over into other parts of their lives," added Sundar, also co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory.

Just the idea that they might be using a hook-up app or affair app would be too scandalous for some people and wouldn't be something they would want shared, the findings showed. According to the researchers, who released their findings in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the single sign-on is designed to make logging on to apps more convenient.

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To conduct the experiment, the researchers created four different sign-up pages for relationship apps with varying degrees of sensitivity, including a high school reunion app, a matchmaking app for more serious relationships, a hook-up app for less serious dating, and an affair-arrangement app.

They then recruited 364 participants through an online microwork site and randomly assigned them to one of those four conditions. The participants could either choose to access the app through one of three social media single sign-on features, or use their e-mail address or create a new account specifically for that app.

Security-conscious prone to this tendency

The participants were then asked a series of questions on perceived security, ease of sharing and usability of the app. The main reason why people use their Facebook ID instead of using their e-mail address or creating a new account is the ease with which they can share the app with their friends. "The flipside is that it prevents them from using their social media login information for privacy-sensitive apps," she said. The security-conscious users are particularly prone to this tendency.

"We found that the tendency to avoid using Facebook ID for affair apps was significantly higher for individuals who have less faith in the security of online systems in general," said Sundar. Sundar suggested that the findings have broader implications outside of the realms of dating and relationships.

"This is just as applicable to sites that enable financial transactions, such as stock trading sites, or bank sites, where people are very concerned about their information and protecting their transactions," said Sundar.