A Model of Social Eavesdropping in Communication Networks
Social eavesdropping is the gathering of information from the interactions of 2 or more people, without their expressed knowledge or expressed permission, by a third party who is ostensibly not the target audience. Grounded in uncertainty management, communication networks, and signaling theories, this article presents a theoretical framework for understanding when and how individuals are likely to eavesdrop on the interactions of others. Social eavesdropping can be actively premeditated or passively incidental, the latter spurred by a serendipitous encounter. Propositions derived from the model investigate how accessibility, information value, and social risk influence the likelihood of social eavesdropping.