This post is in response to Brianna’s blog post, “Redefining Privacy.”
To start, I find a lot of Brianna’s points to be extremely accurate and thoughtful. For example, many teens do use social media to “socialize with friends; to gather information on peers we know little about; to attract potential roommates and significant others.” Our purpose for posting online has never been to expose personal details about our lives, and I don’t believe our social media use exposes us more than we’d like to be exposed. And this purpose does not undermine a design for privacy – Brianna is right – it is absolutely about control. I, for example, pick and choose exactly what I post online, choosing what I want to let others see. I control the narrative that people can see, through my different social media networks.
However, it’s also important to discern between different intents on different social media platforms. For example, Facebook is a platform widely used by adults and people that we may have formal connections with. I see the most filtered posts on Facebook – the average college student may be posting wholesome pictures from their dinner out with friends, or sharing an update on a volunteer org that they joined. The next level down would be Instagram, where we are “followed” by most all of our peers, but also some select adults. These pictures and captions may be less formal: glamor shots, funny photos, aesthetically appealing food pics, etc. And the final level would be snapchat, where teens post “stories” at parties, of their friends doing stupid things, of little life-updates such as “I just got a D on that chem test HAHA” that may be viewed as weird or out-of-place on another social media site.
We choose to control our appearances through different social media sites, attempting to maintain a careful and well thought-out list of who can “friend” us on Facebook, “follow” us on Instagram, or see our “story” on Snapchat. For someone like me, who uses all these platforms, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that I’ve got it all planned out. That I know exactly who can see what. However, this is naive and unrealistic. At some point, we must expect to make a mistake, or unintentionally blur these narratives that we design to be so different. And it’s always interesting to see the consequences.