Young People's Attributions of Privacy Rights and Obligations in Digital Sexting Culture

Emily Setty


Youth sexters are considered vulnerable to privacy violations in the form of unauthorized distribution, in which sexts are distributed beyond the intended recipient without the consent of the subject. This article draws on group and one-to-one interviews with young people 14 to 18 years of age living in southeastern England to show how they constructed privacy rights and obligations in sexting. The analysis suggests that their constructions were shaped by individualistic orientations to risk management, social meanings of privacy in the “digital world,” and broader norms and values regarding gender, trust, and approved conduct of behavior in intimate relationships. The article concludes that educational and community interventions on sexting with young people should deconstruct and challenge narrow ethical frameworks regarding privacy rights and obligations, and young people’s tendency to blame and responsibilize victims of privacy violations in sexting.


sexting, privacy, youth, technology, gender, trust

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