A Literature Review of Personalization Transparency and Control: Introducing the Transparency–Awareness–Control Framework

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

A Literature Review of Personalization Transparency and Control: Introducing the Transparency–Awareness–Control Framework


  • Claire M. Segijn Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Joanna Strycharz Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Amy Riegelman University Libraries, University of Minnesota, USA
  • Cody Hennesy University Libraries, University of Minnesota, USA


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Abstract:  Through various online activities, individuals produce large amounts of data that are collected by companies for the purpose of providing users with personalized communication. In the light of this mass collection of personal data, the transparency and control paradigm for personalized communication has led to increased attention from legislators and academics. However, in the scientific literature no clear definition of personalization transparency and control exists, which could lead to reliability and validity issues, impeding knowledge accumulation in academic research. In a literature review, we analyzed 31 articles and observed that: 1) no clear definitions of personalization transparency or control exist; 2) they are used interchangeably in the literature; 3) collection, processing, and sharing of data are the three objects of transparency and control; and 4) increased transparency does not automatically increase control because first awareness needs to be raised in the individual. Also, the relationship between awareness and control depends on the ability and the desire to control. This study contributes to the field of algorithmic communication by creating a common understanding of the transparency and control paradigm and thus improves validity of the results. Further, it progresses research on the issue by synthesizing existing studies on the topic, presenting the transparency–awareness–control framework, and formulating propositions to guide future research.

Keywords:  awareness; computational advertising; consumer data; control; covert data collection; information disclosure; personalization; privacy; targeting; transparency

Published:   18 November 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i4.4054


© Claire M. Segijn, Joanna Strycharz, Amy Riegelman, Cody Hennesy. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.