Social networking, privacy, and the pursuit of visibility

Harry Blatterer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The emergence of information technology as a means of mass communication in affluent societies during the 1990s immediately gave rise to optimistic as well as skeptical voices. Those who saw in the Internet a potential for the advancement of democracy from the ground up (Castells, 1997) were opposed by others who feared the extension of government surveillance into ever deeper niches of everyday life (Lyon, 1998). Those who marveled at the social and political possibilities for decentered and/or disembodied identities (Plant, 1993; Poster, 1995; Chandler, 1998) were reminded by others of less salutary possibilities such as increased loneliness (Kraut et al., 1998) and the possible eventual redundancy of human labor (Castells, 1998). Amid these discourses privacy took center stage. While growing Internet use around the globe has served to subdue both the overly optimistic and the unduly skeptical, the issue of privacy continues to exercise the public imagination. At issue is a simple fact: usage of the technology leaves traces of personal information that can be used by other parties for their gain, and potentially to the detriment of the person to whom that information pertains, but which that person no longer owns. Sociological arguments as to why people would be willing to part with personal information, even though the potentially harmful consequences are largely known, invariably center on the need for self-presentation in highly individualized societies; in societies, that is, where traditional identity markers have lost their once determining force (Schroer, 2006).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationModern privacy
Subtitle of host publicationshifting boundaries, new forms
EditorsHarry Blatterer, Pauline Johnson, Maria R. Markus
Place of PublicationBasingstoke, UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780230290679
ISBN (Print)9780230246119
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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