On SAGE Insight: Social Media Users’ Legal Consciousness About Privacy

From Social Media + Society

In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, commenting on the rise of Social networking sites (SNSs), said that users have become more comfortable sharing their private information online, including challenging the “social norm” of privacy, which, in his eyes, had become obsolete. This article explores the ways in which the concept of privacy is understood in the context of social media and with regard to users’ awareness of privacy policies and laws in the ‘Post-Snowden’ era. It discovers through focus group interviews the ways in which social media users negotiate privacy violations and what role their understanding of privacy laws (or lack thereof) might play in their strategies of negotiation.

Abstract

This article explores the ways in which the concept of privacy is understood in the context of social media and with regard to users’ awareness of privacy policies and laws in the ‘Post-Snowden’ era. In the light of presumably increased public exposure to privacy debates, generated partly due to the European “Right to be Forgotten” ruling and the Snowden revelations on mass surveillance, this article explores users’ meaning-making of privacy as a matter of legal dimension in terms of its violations and threats online and users’ ways of negotiating their Internet use, in particular social networking sites. Drawing on the concept of legal consciousness, this article explores through focus group interviews the ways in which social media users negotiate privacy violations and what role their understanding of privacy laws (or lack thereof) might play in their strategies of negotiation. The findings are threefold: first, privacy is understood almost universally as a matter of controlling one’s own data, including information disclosure even to friends, and is strongly connected to issues about personal autonomy; second, a form of resignation with respect to control over personal data appears to coexist with a recognized need to protect one’s private data, while respondents describe conscious attempts to circumvent systems of monitoring or violation of privacy, and third, despite widespread coverage of privacy legal issues in the press, respondents’ concerns about and engagement in “self-protecting” tactics derive largely from being personally affected by violations of law and privacy.

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Article details
Social Media Users’ Legal Consciousness About Privacy
Katharine Sarikakis, Lisa Winter
Social Media + Society
First Published February 1, 2017
DOI: 10.1177/2056305117695325
From Social Media + Society

 

 

     
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