Digital Age| From Radical Transparency to Radical Disclosure: Reconfiguring (In)Voluntary Transparency Through the Management of Visibilities

Luke Heemsbergen


This article challenges how the concepts of voluntary and involuntary transparency are understood in the digital age by focusing on the management of involuntary and voluntary disclosure. We tend to understand radical transparency through new forms of involuntary networked data dissemination, spread without the consent or knowledge of whoever held the data. This view conflates the politics of exclusion with crucial questions of compulsion. At the same time, radical transparency’s promise to end secrecy has not materialized. Instead, the social-material relations underpinning digital disclosures suggest they function to reconfigure visibilities of control and recognition rather than reveal extant objects. Thus, the article introduces a typology of disclosure to better understand the involuntary and autonomous and inclusive and exclusionary dimensions of managing visibility in the digital era. It then explores two sets of empirical “radical disclosure” practices, made with purpose but without consent, to articulate how digital disclosures reconfigure visibility and set limits and opportunities in society. The article concludes with a suggestion toward ramifications for governance and autonomy.


: radical disclosure, radical transparency, visibility management, digital leaking, social shaming

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