Privacy Enactment as Behavioral Ecology:Navigation of Actors and Contexts at Midlife
Department of Communication
ESP-IGERT Associate Director
September 17, 2pm-3pm, SEO 1000
Social media forms, such as Facebook and Twitter, challenge individual notions of privacy because of their textually-based, persistent and replicable format and limited control over intended audiences. Privacy is tied to the myriad of contexts under which individuals develop relationships throughout life, yet these media are designed to collapse audiences into a single forum which further complicates privacy management. Despite these complexities, hundreds of millions of individuals use social media technologies on a daily basis. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, while many individuals cite privacy as an ongoing concern with their social network site use, research has found that their online actions and disclosures often do not correspond to their level of concern for privacy violations.
This presentation examines privacy enactment from the perspective of social ecology, an approach that is distinguished by an emphasis on the environment as an agent requiring adaptation. Under such a lens, privacy management can be understood as an ecosystem, which includes social strategies such as "friending" as
well as the more traditional mechanisms of information disclosure and engagement of technological controls. Examining privacy management in this light, we arrive at a more nuanced understanding of how privacy is conceived and enacted online and begin to reconcile the presumed dichotomy between privacy actions and privacy concerns.