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98% of College Students Would Sell out Their Friends in Exchange for Free Pizza

It's tough to turn down pizza, especially when it's free. But is a gratis hot slice of pepperoni worth compromising your friends' online privacy? According to almost every college student faced with such a scenario, the answer is yes.

The power of pizza, it seems, knows no limit. 

The revelation comes from research recently published by the National Bureau for Economic Research, which is based on a study of more than 3,000 students at MIT. The study's greater purpose was to measure reactions to the adoption of an on-campus cryptocurrency, but it included an experiment that tested how the students valued their online privacy as well.

To do this, the researchers pressed the students to submit the email addresses of their friends, under the pretense of needing them to kick off the new cryptocurrency community. In exchange for their friends' contact info, they were promised pizza. Incredibly, free pizza was enough of an incentive to convince 98% of the surveyed students to give up the addresses. Even more shocking, 94% of the students sold out their BFFs' online privacy without any incentive at all.

It's worth mentioning that not giving an address wasn't an option, and the respondents who didn't divulge their friends' info instead provided fake addresses. 

Besides demonstrating the persuasive power of pizza, this experiment proved that there's a significant discrepancy between what people say about the importance of online privacy, and their behavior surrounding it. Specifically, as MarketWatch points out, 74% of people in the US consider it "very important" to be in full control over who can get info about them, and 60% have stated that they would never feel comfortable sharing their email contacts. Compare that to the near unanimous betrayal of friends' privacy exhibited by the students, and it's tough to feel trusting of anyone these days, especially when free cheese-on-bread is involved.

h/tMarketWatch

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.