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Schreiner, Michel and Hess, Thomas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3969-7477 (2015): Examining the Role of Privacy in Virtual Migration: The Case of WhatsApp and Threema. 21st Americas Conference on Information Systems, AMCIS 2015, Puerto Rico, August 13-15, 2015. In: AMCIS 2015 Proceedings,

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WhatsApp is a widely used instant messaging application on smartphones. However, owing to privacy deficiencies in WhatsApp, alternative services that emphasize privacy protection, such as Threema, have emerged. Thus, the question arises whether users would switch from WhatsApp to Threema for privacy reasons, and what the factors are that would affect their switching intention. To answer these questions, we develop a research model examining the role of privacy in virtual migration, using the push-pull-mooring (PPM) migration framework as a theoretical lens. Based on the results of an online survey of 220 German-speaking smartphone users, we found that privacy protection is relevant to users’ switching intention in two ways: as a push effect encouraging users to leave WhatsApp, and as a pull effect attracting users to Threema. However, while our results suggest that peer influence facilitates WhatsApp users’ switching intention, switching costs appear to be a strong barrier.

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