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Compulsory Participation in Social Networking Sites: Exploring Why We Share

Renee Powers

The majority of Americans use social media. When our friends join, we feel the need to join as well. Technology makes sharing simple and the very act of social networking values the every day. Therefore, sharing personal information on social media is easy, omnipresent, and nearly compulsory. This paper asks an important question: Are we experiencing a cultural moment of sharing or something more sinister? Are institutions persuading us to erase our own boundaries of privacy? Through a review of recent newspaper articles and current research on the notion of surveillance, this paper shows that participation on social networking sites makes us complicit to the powers of institutional surveillance, including the non-transparent asymmetrical monitoring from government and international corporations. Though social networks seem benign, they are not necessarily in our best interest. Relationships are now commodified, self-disclosed personal information is regulated and disciplined via technology, and ultimately, corporations profit.