An Ecological Approach to Privacy: “Doing” Online Privacy at Midlife
journal contributionposted on 22.01.2016, 00:00 by K. Quinn
Though a complex behavior, online privacy regulation has been considered by social media researchers to be a function of making information available or in the enactment of privacy controls, resulting in a perceived contradiction between concern for privacy and actual behaviors. Using data from interviews of 23 midlife adults, this study explores privacy management within social media use by examining privacy behaviors and strategies through an ecological lens, which considers how an individual's behavior intersects with the technological, social and discursive dimensions of the social media environment. This perspective highlights that social strategies such as connection selectivity and discursive treatments related to the quality of communicated information factor significantly into privacy management, behaviors which may be overlooked because they leave scant evidence. These findings provide further insight in the reconciliation of the privacy paradox, and offer more nuance to the understanding of how privacy is perceived and accomplished by individuals as they use social media platforms.