Exploring the 'Nothing to Hide' Paradox: Estonian Teens’ Experiences and Perceptions About Privacy Online
18 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 22, 2011
The aim of the current study was to explore the reasons why Estonian teenagers tend to over-share their private and intimate information on social media, especially on Facebook. Two focus-group interviews were carried out with 16-20 year old high school students (N=15), in June 2010, in order to study their experiences and opinions about the perceived audience of their Facebook postings. Adolescents’ perceptions about the reasons for sharing private information in an online setting were also pondered about.
The findings of the study indicate that there are three main reasons why young people tend to share private information through social media – lack of skills and knowledge; sharing private things in the hopes of gaining additional popularity and gratification; and carelessness caused by the illusion of online anonymity. Furthermore, the majority of the young involved in the study, had misperceptions about the size of the audience. The findings suggest that while posting one’s messages and photos on Facebook, the imagined audience of the respondents were precisely the couple of people in the friends list who are supposed to understand the message. The young involved in the study confessed having had problems in the past because of miscalculating the actual size and heterogeneity of their audience, from these experiences they have developed a sense of jeopardy. The main groups that are perceived as a danger to teenager’s privacy are mostly those who are positioned as having some power over the young – the police, teachers and parents.
Keywords: social networking sites, young people, Facebook, imagined audience, privacy
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