Anxiety is another important psychological trait that has been examined in relation to smartphone use. Research by Cheever, Rosen, Carrier, and Chavez (2014) found that heavy and moderate smartphone users felt significantly more anxious over time. They concluded that dependency upon smartphones, mediated by an unhealthy connection to their constant use, may lead to increased anxiety when the device is absent. Several studies have reported associations between problematic smartphone use and social interaction anxiety (Enez Darcin et al., 2016; Lee, 2015; Sapacz, Rockman, & Clark, 2016), compulsive anxiety (Khang, Woo, & Kim, 2012), and general anxiety (Lee et al., 2010; Lepp, Barkley, & Karpinski, 2014; Ha, Chin, Park, Ryu, & Yu, 2008; Hong, Chiu, & Huang, 2012; Park & Choi, 2015; Tavakolizadeh, Atarodi, Ahmadpour, & Pourgheisar, 2014). Relationships between high smartphone use and high anxiety, insomnia, and being female have also been reported (Jenaro, Flores, Gómez-Vela, González-Gil, & Caballo, 2007). Taken together, these studies provide justification for further research examining anxiety and the associations with smartphone use.
There is also increasing evidence showing a relationship between depression and those activities that can be engaged in on a smartphone such as texting, viewing videos, gaming, and listening to music (Allam, 2010; Augner & Hacker, 2012; Katsumata, Matsumoto, Kitani, & Takeshima, 2008; Lu et al., 2011; Steelman, Soror, Limayem, & Worrell, 2012). Other factors associated with problematic smartphone use include low self-esteem and extraversion (Bianchi & Philips, 2005). Ha et al. (2008) identified that Korean adolescents who were excessive smartphone users expressed more depressive symptoms, higher interpersonal anxiety, and lower self-esteem than non-excessive smartphone users. The same study also reported a correlation between excessive use of smartphone and Internet addiction. Similar findings were reported by Im, Hwang, Choi, Seo, and Byun (2013).
Research indicating a positive (or negative) association between normal technology use and depressive symptoms has also been reported. For instance, a longitudinal study of Facebook usage (Steinfield, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008) found that Facebook use led to a gain in bridging social ties and those users with low self-esteem reported more gains in social ties due to their Facebook use. Research by Davila et al. (2012) found that more frequent usage of SNSs was not associated with depressive symptoms. However, more negative interactions while social networking was associated with depressive symptoms. Park and Lee (2012) reported that smartphones can improve psychological well-being if they were used to fulfill a need to care for others or for supportive communication. In contrast to many research studies, Jelenchick, Eickhoff, and Moreno (2013) found no relationship between social networking and depression among a sample of 190 adolescents.
It is interesting to note that the predictors of conscientiousness and emotional stability were significant negative predictors of problematic smartphone use. Conscientiousness is characterized by orderliness, responsibility, and dependability (McCrae & Costa, 1999), and this study suggests that the less conscientiousness individuals are, the more likely they are to display problematic behaviors. Emotional stability is characterized by being stable and emotionally resilient (McCrae & Costa, 1999), and in this study, being less emotionally stable was associated with problematic smartphone behavior. This finding supports the findings of Augner and Hacker (2012) who reported that low emotional stability was associated with problematic smartphone use. This is of potential concern because people who experience mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and sadness are more likely to develop problematic smartphone use behavior. Being less emotionally stable (i.e., neurotic) has been associated with many health disorders such as anorexia and bulimia (Davis & Claridge, 1998) and drug addiction (Gossop & Eysenck, 1980). Thus, while the findings presented here are correlational, this relationship is potentially concerning and requires further empirical investigation.
The bivariate correlations demonstrated significant relationships between a number of variables and problematic smartphone use. For instance, time spent using a smartphone was significantly related to problematic smartphone use and is similar to previous research findings (e.g., Khang et al., 2012; Thomee et al., 2011). Anxiety was positively correlated with problematic smartphone use supporting past research that has found anxiety to be associated with problematic smartphone use (i.e., Hogg, 2009). This finding suggests that as anxiety increases, problematic smartphone use also increases. The personality trait of openness was negatively related to problematic smartphone use. This finding suggests that people who are low in this trait are more likely to experience problematic smartphone use. Conscientiousness, emotionally stability, and age were negatively related to problematic smartphone use (as discussed above).
In contrast to previous research that has shown associations between extraversion and increased smartphone use (de Montjoye et al., 2013; Lane & Manner, 2012; Phillips et al., 2006), in this study, extraversion was not associated with problematic use. This study also found no association between narcissism and problematic smartphone use in contrast to previous research (e.g., Pearson & Hussain, 2015). This may be because the study sample contained very few narcissistic individuals or they were not motivated to use smartphones for narcissistic purposes.
The results of this study contribute to the small base of empirical research that has focused on the problematic use of smartphones. Overuse of smartphones can have negative effects on psychological health including depression and chronic stress (Augner & Hacker, 2012) and increased suicidal ideation (Katsumata et al., 2008). Research supports an association between depression and excessive texting, social networking, gaming, emailing, and viewing videos, all of which can all be accessed via a smartphone (Allam, 2010; de Wit, Straten, Lamers, Cuijpers, & Penninx, 2011). Future research may need to consider problematic phone use and associations with situational factors such as home and school environment, and individual factors such as mental health and behavioral problems. Understanding the correlates of excessive use of smartphones is an important area of investigation.
On December 27, 2012, CBS News reported that Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, criticized a friend for being "way uncool" in sharing a private Facebook photo of her on Twitter, only to be told that the image had appeared on a friend-of-a-friend's Facebook news feed. Commenting on this misunderstanding of Facebook's privacy settings, Eva Galperin of the EFF said "Even Randi Zuckerberg can get it wrong. That's an illustration of how confusing they can be."
In 2018, Facebook admitted that an app made by Global Science Research and Alexandr Kogan, related to Cambridge Analytica, was able in 2014 to harvest personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, by exploiting their friendship connection to the users who sold their data via the app. Following the revelations of the breach, several public figures, including industrialist Elon Musk and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, announced that they were deleting their Facebook accounts, using the hashtag "#deletefacebook".
Facebook was also criticized for allowing the 2012 Barack Obama presidential campaign to analyze and target select users by providing the campaign with friendship connections of users who signed up for an application. However, users signing up for the application were aware that their data, but not the data of their friends, was going to a political party.
In March 2019, Facebook admitted that it had mistakenly stored "hundreds of millions" of passwords of Facebook and Instagram users in plaintext (as opposed to being hashed and salted) on multiple internal systems accessible only to Facebook engineers, dating as far back as 2012. Facebook stated that affected users would be notified, but that there was no evidence that this data had been abused or leaked.
In August 2011, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) started an investigation after receiving 22 complaints by europe-v-facebook.org, which was founded by a group of Austrian students. The DPC stated in first reactions that the Irish DPC is legally responsible for privacy on Facebook for all users within the European Union and that he will "investigate the complaints using his full legal powers if necessary". The complaints were filed in Ireland because all users who are not residents of the United States or Canada have a contract with "Facebook Ireland Ltd", located in Dublin, Ireland. Under European law Facebook Ireland is the "data controller" for facebook.com, and therefore, facebook.com is governed by European data protection laws. Facebook Ireland Ltd. was established by Facebook Inc. to avoid US taxes (see Double Irish arrangement).
The group 'europe-v-facebook.org' made access requests at Facebook Ireland and received up to 1,222 pages of data per person in 57 data categories that Facebook was holding about them, including data that was previously removed by the users. The group claimed that Facebook failed to provide some of the requested data, including "likes", facial recognition data, data about third party websites that use "social plugins" visited by users, and information about uploaded videos. Currently the group claims that Facebook holds at least 84 data categories about every user.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, a spokesperson said that the DPC will "go and audit Facebook, go into the premises and go through in great detail every aspect of security". He continued by saying: "It's a very significant, detailed and intense undertaking that will stretch over four or five days." In December 2011 the DPC published its first report on Facebook. This report was not legally binding but suggested changes that Facebook should undertake until July 2012. The DPC is planning to do a review about Facebook's progress in July 2012.[needs update] 2b1af7f3a8