Networked privacy is the desire to maintain agency over information within the social and technological networks in which information is disclosed, given meaning, and shared. This agency is continually compromised by the aggregation, connection, and diffusion facilitated by social media and big data technologies. In this talk, drawing from her book The Private is Political, Marwick examines how these dynamics map to intersectional lines of privacy, drawing from a study of LGBTQ+ individuals in North Carolina.
Because networked information intrinsically leaks, the participants strategized how to manage disclosures that might be stigmatized in one context but not in others. They worked to firewall what, how, and to whom they disclosed, engaging in privacy work to maintain agency over information. They do not navigate the idea of private and public as a binary but as a spectrum, a web, or a network. Their experiences complicate the idea of a binary distinction between “public” or “private” information. Instead, the ways people share information about stigmatized identities are deeply contextual and social.
Alice E. Marwick is currently the Microsoft Visiting Professor at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. She is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Principal Researcher at the Center for Information Technology and Public Life, which she co-founded, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She researches the social, political, and cultural implications of popular social media technologies. In 2017, she co-authored Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online (Data & Society), a flagship report examining far-right online subcultures’ use of social media to spread disinformation, for which she was named one of 2017’s Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. She is the author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale 2013), an ethnographic study of the San Francisco tech scene which examines how people seek social status through online visibility, and co-editor of The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage 2017). Her forthcoming book, The Private is Political (Yale), examines how the networked nature of online privacy disproportionately impacts marginalized individuals in terms of gender, race, and socio-economic status. In addition to academic journal articles and essays, she has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Slate, the Columbia Journalism Review, New York Magazine, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has been supported by the Carnegie Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Luminate Group, the Digital Trust Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, and she has held fellowships at the Data & Society Research Institute and the Institute of Arts & Humanities at UNC-CH. As a 2020 Andrew Carnegie fellow, she is working on a third book about online radicalization. In 2021, she was awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by the University of North Carolina.
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