Document Type



School of Communications and Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


Presented at the The Social Life of Big Data 2015 symposium, Perth Zoo Convention Centre, Perth, Western Australia, 2nd June, 2015.


Social platforms along with mobile devices allow individuals to share personal details with their peers. They also render individuals visible to institutions like marketers, employers and law enforcement agencies. These lead to troubling developments such as privacy violations, categorical discrimination, and a chilling effect on public speech. Moreover, we (users, but also researchers) are only learning about these in consequence, and are nevertheless coming to terms with online surveillance. Of particular importance is the extent to which individuals contribute to the visibility of peers and strangers alike. This presentation considers research on social media and big data in the context of user visibility and the ensuing social outcomes. Following an overview of a range of surveillance practices that have emerged on platforms like Facebook, this presentation will focus on recent examples of user-led surveillance and policing online. While these practices may be a form of resistance against state surveillance, so too can they reinforce or augment this surveillance, knowingly or otherwise. These dynamics pose a number of challenges for emerging scholars, and in particular reconciling individuals’ motivations and experiences with their digital traces is a pressing concern