“Opportunity Infographic – The New Sharing Economy Study” by latddotcom is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
New forms of sharing have emerged with the global dissemination of digital information and communication technologies, particularly the Internet and mobile devices for access. In the sharing economy, the fundamental behavior is that of the consumer, who continuously creates value with companies and other consumers. In contrast to traditional online environments, the sharing approach enables the establishment of two-sided markets in which both companies and consumers can act as buyers and sellers in the sharing economy.
This is the reason why modern users are so drawn to sharing. Sharing is facilitated by digital platforms that connect resource-seeking consumers with resource-owners who can provide those resources (Guo et al., 2019).
The sharing economy in social media:
The concept of the Sharing Economy, with its motto of “having less” has revolutionized life today in many ways, from transportation to housing and even business models. Furthermore, it has been given a significant boost by the massive popularity of social media.
First and foremost, Airbnb, founded in 2008 as a sharing economy, allows individuals to rent out their homes to travelers, a move that has revolutionized travel and positively impacted society. Additionally, Airbnb’s main driver is the ability to motivate travelers when they want to experience a place as if they were locals. As a result, users using Airbnb stay and spend money in many different neighborhoods throughout the city. It is conceivable that before Airbnb was created, some neighborhoods did not attract many tourists most of the time, and on top of that, Airbnb guests spend more than twice as much as the average traveler typically spends (Hall et al., 2022).
People these days tend to look for vacations that seem more real. So, standard hotel rooms need to catch up with the unique benefits of the Airbnb sharing economy.
Uber and other online taxi software connect passengers with independent drivers via smartphone apps. These drivers transport people for application-processed payments. The transportation industry has witnessed reduced entrance barriers for drivers and improved remuneration compared to conventional taxi services. Additionally, the shift has enabled drivers to enjoy increased flexibility in their working schedules. Based on a survey conducted by Kashyap & Bhatia (2018), it was found that a significant number of individuals engaged in online taxi services work on a part-time basis, utilizing their available free time.
The Sharing Economy as a Catalyst for social media
The sharing economy typically involves a reciprocal arrangement between multiple individuals, fostering cooperation and collaboration among community members in social media. This facilitates the connection of individuals and communities with similar interests, ultimately cultivating a sense of affiliation among users (Martin, 2016).
Additionally, sharing is facilitating the democratization of entrepreneurialism among the general population. Like Airbnb & Uber, facilitates the emergence of micro-entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises growth by enabling individuals to generate income from their assets and skills (Ravenelle, 2017). The advancement of this service holds the potential to address economic inequalities, mitigate ecological degradation, enhance labor rights, and empower marginalized communities. In other words, in the age of sharing, it is necessary to provide employees with a means of coping with stagnant wages and workplace insecurity. The text indicates that when COVID-19 arrived, an increase in unemployment led to a decline in the economy for most of the population, where some groups could no longer maintain a subsistence level of living (Amankwah-Amoah, 2020). The introduction of sharing gives everyone a financial cushion to earn extra income while working, which has a beneficial impact.
Privacy issues arising from the sharing economy
The recognition of user trust as a fundamental requirement for a successful online business has emerged with the introduction of commercial online services. However, the use of online services has always been associated with privacy concerns. Users must disclose information to service providers in sharing economy services. Online privacy concerns carry considerable weight, especially concerning social networking sites that facilitate connections between users and merchants through personal information. Research has explored the possibility that social media platforms intensify privacy concerns due to users revealing their privacy to merchants on sharing service platforms and potentially disclosing personal data to other users (Lutz et al., 2017).
Individuals who possess a sense of trust towards others are more inclined to share personal information with other individuals. When an individual exhibits a strong inclination towards safeguarding their privacy, it is commonly interpreted by others as an indication of a lack of confidence in others. This is a typical social dynamic that the “sharing” or “trust” economy manipulates cynically. Users’ privacy and security are jeopardized by third-party administrators, such as Airbnb, who facilitate the exchange of homes and goods.
A study found that trust-building artifacts, including average rating scores, quantity of ratings, identity verification, photographs, and membership tenure, were identified as factors influencing price determination. The significance of the reputation system within the Airbnb framework is shown by the fact that 95% of individuals review and evaluate ratings before making a reservation. Furthermore, 10% of individuals express confidence in merchants lacking any review.
The transition from institutional to distributive mechanisms of social trust has paved the way for the emergence of the sharing economy. Moreover, digital tools such as censorship systems have effectively accelerated the formation of online relationships of trust between strangers. Recognizing the integrity of others based on their information remains a challenge for the sharing economy regarding online privacy.
Thus, shared services violate physical privacy (Warren & Brandeis, 1890). For example, in Airbnb’s sharing service, providers renegotiate the physical privacy boundary between guests by inviting them to remain in their “private space” and letting them use the furniture and appliances (Chen et al., 2022). By allowing strangers to share a room, both the host and the visitors may experience an invasion of their physical privacy.
One of Airbnb’s major privacy controversies came in 2011. A host, “EJ,” rented out her San Francisco apartment on Airbnb, only to be robbed by a guest. It was a heartbreaking story of how many people are trustworthy, but few are not.
Subsequently, Airbnb’s customer service team paid full attention to the crime and offered to help EJ repair it emotionally and financially. Later, CEO Brian Chesky also released changes to Airbnb’s community rules to strengthen them and make them safer for hosts and guests.
Challenges posed by the sharing economy
The introduction of UberX has provided a cheaper option for rush-hour commuters, welcomed by drivers seeking extra income and consumers seeking quick, inexpensive transport.
According to studies, online automotive service teams are disrupting the existing industry. First and foremost, online car services hurt the procurement of new automobiles by the general public. Guo et al. (2019) found that the introduction of Uber provides consumers with alternative modes of transportation, which reduces their motivation to purchase new vehicles.
On top of that, the most significant privacy issue with using uber is personal safety, incredibly late at night when a single rider increases the risk to personal safety.
According to NBC News, Uber reported 141 cases of rape and 998 sexual assaults in 2020.
On the website Abuse Nation, 90% of adult rape victims are female. While individuals of all genders can be victims of sexual assault, women have reason to be particularly concerned about attacks.
Following the incidents of sexual assaults, Uber has issued a recent statement emphasizing the significance of recognizing the personal experiences associated with each data point, often involving grief and loss. Uber will also persist in allocating resources towards safety measures, developing novel functionalities aimed at accident prevention, and actively encouraging the entire sector to elevate safety benchmarks.
The economics of sharing on social media represent a new and potent force, with the rise of Airbnb and Uber sharing services altering how individuals gain access to products and services and form communities. The evolution of the sharing economy is also intricately linked to the rise of media platforms that facilitate community building and serve as media catalysts. It affects all aspects of society and technology, creating opportunities for empowerment, inclusivity, and environmental sustainability. Nevertheless, privacy in sharing has been a complex and evolving concern, particularly physical privacy. Consequently, privacy assurances of shared services must extend beyond established online privacy measures and encompass potential physical privacy considerations.
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