Culturally Specific Privacy Practices on Social Network Sites: Privacy Boundary Permeability Management in Photo Sharing by American and Chinese College-Age Users

Yang Liu, Jun Fan


This article explores the cultural specificity of privacy practices on social network sites (SNSs) by comparing 10 college-age American Facebook users’ and 10 college-age Chinese Renren users’ in their photo sharing of significant events during winter vacation. Using communication privacy management theory, we show that Chinese participants more tightly controlled their privacy boundary permeability than American participants. Also, Chinese participants’ relationships with Renren friends—potential information co-owners—featured more distance and formality than American participants’ close interactions with Facebook friends. We interpret the findings in light of American and Chinese cultures to contemplate the cultural manifestation in SNS privacy practices.


culture, Facebook, privacy, Renren, social network sites

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