Control Responsibility: The Discursive Construction of Privacy, Teens, and Facebook in Flemish Newspapers

Ralf De Wolf, Stijn Joye


This study explores the discursive construction of online privacy through a critical discourse analysis of Flemish newspapers’ coverage of privacy, teens, and Facebook between 2007 and 2018 to determine what representation of (young) users the papers articulate. A privacy-as-control discourse is dominant and complemented by two other discourses: that of the unconcerned and reckless teenager and that of the promise of media literacy. Combined, these discourses form an authoritative language on privacy that we call “control responsibility.” Control responsibility presents privacy as an individual responsibility that can be controlled and needs to be learned by young users. We argue that the discourses contribute to a neoliberal rationality and have a disciplinary effect that strengthens various forms of responsibilization.


privacy, teens, critical discourse analysis, control, Facebook

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