'I’m a Lot More Interesting than a Friendster Profile': Identity Presentation, Authenticity and Power in Social Networking Services
Association of Internet Researchers 6.0, 2005
26 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2011
Date Written: October 1, 2005
The rise in popularity of social networking services (SNS) in the last few years is not unproblematic. The structure and underlying philosophy of social networking services presents two problems regarding user self-presentation of identity. First, the fixity of profiles creates conflict in user self-presentation strategies. SNS privilege a single identity presentation as both “authentic” and “real”, which diminishes user agency. I present a typology of user presentation strategies on Friendster, Orkut, and MySpace that discusses how users navigate this fixity in a variety of ways, and how successful the application architecture is in encouraging a particular type of presentation. Second, I draw from social networking theory to discuss how the presentation of social networks is decontextualized both in terms of relational ties and larger social structures. The social and cultural power inherently embedded in networks is made invisible, replaced with both structural regulation and power (by the application) and political and cultural assumptions in how identity is presented. Additionally, the structure of both application and profiles encourages framing oneself as a consumer and commodifying complicated relationships as social capital.
Keywords: social network sites, social networking sites, Friendster, Orkut, MySpace, self-presentation, social media
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