Privacy at the Margins| Socially Mediated Visibility: Friendship and Dissent in Authoritarian Azerbaijan

Katy E. Pearce, Jessica Vitak, Kristen Barta


Socially mediated visibility refers to technical features of social media platforms and the strategic actions of individuals or groups to manage the content and associations visible on social media channels, as well as inferences and consequences resulting from that visibility. As a root affordance, the visibility of content and associations shared in mediated settings can vary, with users typically retaining only partial control over visibility. Understanding how social and technical factors affect visibility plays a critical role in managing one’s online self-presentation. This qualitative study of young dissident Azerbaijanis (N = 29) considers the management strategies as well as the risks and benefits associated with increased visibility when sharing marginalized political views through social media. Socially mediated visibility helps dissidents advocate and connect with like-minded others, but also increases the likelihood that their dissent is visible to those who may disagree with it and can punish them for it. This study considers the effect of the visibility of dissent on peer relationships.


visibility, Azerbaijan, social media, dissident, affordances, authoritarianism

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