Balancing Audience and Privacy Tensions on Social Network Sites: Strategies of Highly Engaged Users

Jessica Vitak, Stacy Blasiola, Sameer Patil, Eden Litt


As social network sites grow and diversify in both users and content, tensions between users’ audience composition and their disclosure practices become more prevalent. Users must navigate these spaces carefully to reap relational benefits while ensuring content is not shared with unintended audiences. Through a qualitative study of highly engaged Facebook users, this study provides insight into how people conceptualize friendship online as well as how perceived audience affects privacy concerns and privacy management strategies. Findings suggest an increasingly complex relationship between these variables, fueled by collapsing contexts and invisible audiences. Although a diverse range of strategies are available to manage privacy, most participants in this sample still engaged in some degree of self-censorship.


privacy, boundary regulation, social network sites, context collapse, impression management, Facebook

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