Privacy and Identity Management in Social Media: Driving Factors for Identity Hiding

Privacy and Identity Management in Social Media: Driving Factors for Identity Hiding

Simone Smala (University of Queensland, Australia) and Saleh Al-Shehri (University of Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2988-2.ch016


Social networking media are becoming more widespread as educational learning sites. For this reason, it is important to investigate how concerns about identity management can interfere with or influence the planned learning processes. This chapter engages initially with current research that investigates the use of social media with a particular focus on issues of identity management. It then provides a close analysis of identity management among student users of dedicated Facebook pages in tertiary education settings, as part of a larger study into contextual language learning and the educational potential of mobile technologies and social media. The study concludes that issues around publically sharing information with classmates (whom you might or might not “befriend” on social media sites), and the exposure that comes with sharing one’s background and potentially contentious political views are probably experienced by students worldwide.
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Social Media Use

According to Kolb (2008), students outside of school are immersed in social networking and interactive websites. Lenhart, Madden, and Hitlin (2005) found that about 87 percent of young students are online most of the time. Emailing, instant messaging, and gaming are the leading mobile phone activities for young students (Kolb, 2008). Blogging, chatting, and music-sharing are some of their popular online activities (Rainie, 2006). Students are also professional users of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace (Botha, Vosloo, Kuner, & van den Berg, 2011; Boyd, 2008; Godwin-Jones, 2008). Owen, Grant, Sayers and Facer (2006) argue that a person in cyber-culture has the opportunity to be someone other than who s/he usually is. They continue that although actual identities may be revealed, online social networking provides the users with more freedom from age and physical appearance. Indeed, creating digital self-representations (avatars) has become a common online behaviour for many young students (Boyd, 2008). As this argument revolves around identities of usual users of such websites in this learning context, many of the reasons behind “identity hiding,” particularly among a group of students who already knew each other, is still unclear.

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