Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Arts & Humanities

First Advisor

Dr Ann-Claire Larsen

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Margaret Giles

Abstract

Facebook is an integral part of today’s social landscape, but Facebook use involves compromising one’s privacy in relation to both other users and to the Facebook corporation and its affiliated businesses. This analysis explores respondents’ reasons for using Facebook together with their Facebook-related privacy concerns, and how these factors influence self-disclosures and privacy management strategies on the site. Also explored are respondents’ perceptions both of what the Facebook corporation ‘knows’ about them and with whom it shares their data. The research is based on the concepts of user-user and user-corporate privacy concerns versus the social needs of self-portrayal and belonging. Self-portrayal (inspired by Friedlander, 2011) is explored in the contexts of both strategic self-presentation and expression of the true self, and belonging is explored in the contexts of both intimacy and affiliation. These concepts have been drawn from a combination of psychological theories together with existing research on privacy concerns and social needs on social networking sites.

Respondents completed an online questionnaire over a six week period from late August to early October 2014, and a focus group was held in November 2014. The questionnaire was largely quantitative but allowed for qualitative input via text boxes. There were 404 completed and valid responses, and of the demographic factors tested, gender was most strongly associated with Facebook-related privacy concerns and age was most strongly associated with reasons for using Facebook. Respondents indicated a clash between fulfilling their social needs on Facebook and their privacy concerns on the site. However, these concerns did not, for the most part, stop them using Facebook, although in certain instances respondents employed tactics to minimise their privacy concerns. This thesis argues that, when using Facebook, respondents resolved the privacy paradox to the best of their ability.

It is anticipated that the findings of this thesis will contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding the benefits and drawbacks of social media use.

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