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Shared Rules of Disclosure Are Rarely Discussed in Social Media

10 May 2011 Aalto University

What is shared on social network sites, such as Facebook, can be a source of controversy. A study finds that people tend to try to manage on their own what is disclosed. At the same time, they are aware of the limits of this approach: there are scarce means to control what others share about oneself.

Airi Lampinen, Vilma Lehtinen and Asko Lehmuskallio from Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT along with Sakari Tamminen from Aalto University studied how users of social network services control, who gets access to content concerning them. Twenty-seven university students were interviewed on their use of different social network services and the challenges they see in how information is shared online.

The researchers found that simply trusting the good judgment of one’s contacts is more common than actively negotiating “rules of disclosure” with others. When an embarrassing blunder takes place, it can feel uneasy to raise the issue into discussion as that would question the trust and good will interaction in social network services relies on.

− Even when people mean well, it can be next to impossible to foresee the implications that sharing a piece of content about a friend may have when made available to a diverse list of contacts,  Lampinen says calling for privacy management tools that provide more support for collaboration.

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