the culture and values of social media

How Teens Understand Privacy

Posted: May 14th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Danah and I just released a new article draft. Here’s danah’s introduction to it:

In the fall, danah boyd and Alice Marwick went into the field to understand teens’ privacy attitudes and practices. We’ve blogged some of our thinking since then but we’re currently working on turning our thinking into a full-length article. We are lucky enough to be able to workshop our ideas at an upcoming scholarly meeting (PLSC), but we also wanted to share our work-in-progress with the public since we both know that there are all sorts of folks out there who have a lot of knowledge about this domain but with whom we don’t have the privilege of regularly interacting.

“Social Privacy in Networked Publics: Teens’ Attitudes, Practices, and Strategies”
by danah boyd and Alice Marwick

Please understand that this is an unfinished work-in-progress article, complete with all sorts of bugs that we will need to address before we submit it for publication. But… we would certainly love feedback, critiques, and suggestions for how to improve it. Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of this kind of research, it’s also quite likely that we’re missing out on all sorts of prior work that was done in this space so we’d love to also hear about any articles that we should’ve read by now. Or any thoughts you might have that might advance/complicate our thinking.


I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience

Posted: July 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: publications | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

The first paper that danah boyd and I wrote together based on our research at MSR last summer has been published!

Social media technologies collapse multiple audiences into single contexts, making it difficult for people to use the same techniques online that they do to handle multiplicity in face-to-face conversation. This article investigates how content producers navigate ‘imagined audiences’ on Twitter. We talked with participants who have different types of followings to understand their techniques, including targeting different audiences, concealing subjects, and maintaining authenticity. Some techniques of audience management resemble the practices of ‘micro-celebrity’ and personal branding, both strategic self-commodification. Our model of the networked audience assumes a many-to-many communication through which individuals conceptualize an imagined audience evoked through their tweets.

If you have access to a university journal subscription, you can access it here. If not, you can download it here [PDF].

I am very proud of this paper and would love to hear feedback on it.


Berkman Center Literature Review: Youth, Reputation and Privacy

Posted: April 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: internet culture | Tags: , | No Comments »

I am delighted to announce that a review of the literature on youth, privacy, and reputation that I co-authored with Diego Murgia-Diaz and John Palfrey has just been published on SSRN. This is part of the Youth and Media Policy Project, funded by MacArthur Foundation, for which I am a research assistant. This was a somewhat massive undertaking, but we’re all very pleased with the result.

Youth, Reputation and Privacy Report
Youth, Privacy and Reputation (Literature Review)

Abstract:

The scope of this literature review is to map out what is currently understood about the intersections of youth, reputation, and privacy online, focusing on youth attitudes and practices. We summarize both key empirical studies from quantitative and qualitative perspectives and the legal issues involved in regulating privacy and reputation. This project includes studies of children, teenagers, and younger college students. For the purposes of this document, we use “teenagers” or “adolescents” to refer to young people ages 13-19; children are considered to be 0-12 years old. However, due to a lack of large-scale empirical research on this topic, and the prevalence of empirical studies on college students, we selectively included studies that discussed age or included age as a variable. Due to language issues, the majority of this literature covers the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Canada.

Here’s the introduction:

Many adults worry about children and teenagers’ online privacy, predominantly due to a perception that youth put themselves at risk for harassment and solicitation by revealing personal information, usually to marketers or on social networking sites (Aidman 2000; Giffen 2008; Read 2006). First, commercial websites and advertising networks are said to manipulate children into providing personal data which is bought, sold, and used for monetary gain (Cai & Gantz 2000; Montgomery & Pasnik 1996; Moscardelli & Liston-Heyes 2004; Youn 2009). Second, recent privacy worries are centered around secrecy, access, and the risks that “public living” on sites like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube poses from educational institutions, future employers, pedophiles, and child pornographers (Palfrey et al. 2008; Lenhart & Madden 2007; Youn 2009). These concerns can translate to blaming youth for their carelessness, with the frequently-cited maxim that “youth don’t care about privacy” (Kornblum 2007; Nussbaum 2007; Moscardelli & Liston-Heyes 2004). At the same time that youth are castigated for their openness, children and teenagers are under increasing surveillance at home and school, facilitated by Internet filters, mobile phones, and other monitoring technologies (Berson & Berson, 2006; Hope, 2005).

Often, young people are viewed on one side of a generational divide (Herring 2008). “Millennials” or “digital natives” are portrayed as more comfortable with digital technologies and as having significantly different behaviors than their “digital immigrant” parents (Palfrey & Gasser 2008; Solove 2008; N. Howe & Strauss 2000). There is a risk of this discourse exoticizing the experience of young people from an adult perspective, given the fact that adults perform most of the research on young people, create the technologies that young people use, and produce media commentary on children and teenagers (Herring 2008). Much of the popular media’s commentary on young people lumps children and teenagers together using a “generational” rhetoric that flattens the diverse experiences of young people in different contexts, countries, class positions and traditions.

For many of today’s young people, peer socialization, flirting, gossiping, relationship-building, and “hanging out” takes place online (boyd 2008; Ito et al. 2008; Herring 2008). Young people primarily use online technologies to talk with people they already know. Sharing information through social network sites or instant messenger reinforces bonds of trust within peer groups.

The idea of two distinct spheres, of the “public” and the “private,” is in many ways an outdated concept to today’s young people. Much of the studies of privacy online focus on risk, rather than understanding the necessity of private spaces for young people where they can socialize away from the watching eyes of parents or teachers. These seeming contradictions demonstrate how understandings of risk, public space, private information, and the role of the Internet in day-today life differ between children, teenagers, parents, teachers, journalists, and scholars.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Citation:
Marwick, Alice E, Murgia-Diaz, Diego and Palfrey, John G., Youth, Privacy and Reputation (Literature Review) (March 29, 2010). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2010-5. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1588163

Note that like all literature reviews, it is impossible to be entirely comprehensive. I apologize if your fine work in this field was left out (but please do comment and leave citation suggestions!).