We Care About Different Things: Non-Elite Conceptualizations of Social Media Privacy

Quinn, Kelly; Epstein, Dmitry; Moon, Brenda
Social Media + Society

This study explores privacy from the perspective of the user. It leverages a “framing in thought” approach to capture how users make sense of privacy in their social media use. It builds on a unique dataset of privacy definitions collected from a representative sample of 608 US social media users. The data are analyzed using topic modeling and semantic network analysis to unpack the multidimensionality of social media privacy. These dimensions are further examined in relation to established demographic antecedents of privacy concerns and behaviors. Results indicate the dominance of frames related to horizontal dimensions of privacy, or privacy vis-à-vis peers, as compared with the vertical dimensions, or privacy vis-à-vis institutions. In addition, the findings suggest that user conceptualization of privacy reflects a cognate-based approach that emphasizes control and limits to information access. Implications for privacy research, policy, and technology design are discussed.