Social Privacy in Networked Publics: Teens’ Attitudes, Practices, and Strategies

Privacy and Security, Networks, the Internet, and Cloud Computing and Internet

Article Snapshot


danah boyd and Alice Marwick


A Decade in Internet Time: Symposium on the Dynamics of the Internet and Society, September 2011


Teens implement strategies that may be overlooked by adults in order to achieve privacy goals in social media services.

Policy Relevance

Knowing more about the nuances of how teens understand privacy can help policy-makers learn how to more effectively protect teens and communicate with them about online privacy.

Main Points

  • Understandings of “privacy” vary culturally and among age groups. There is not a one-size-fits-all definition of privacy.
  • What many teens value about “privacy” is personal agency (having the ability and right to make decisions for themselves) and being able to control access to information, rather than the particular properties of the information itself.
  • When teens explain privacy, they tend to focus on who is present as opposed to focusing on spatial boundaries.
  • Social norms greatly influence privacy in networked publics – publics that are built through increasingly interconnected social networks, such as those in online spaces. These same social norms can serve as a regulatory force for protecting privacy.
  • Many teens feel a lack of control when people who hold power over them, such as parents, violate the boundaries they create online.
  • Teens use online spaces or “networked publics” as a space to work out their individual identities and seek understanding about how they perceive themselves, as well as a social tool.
  • Teens’ participation in “networked publics” can be linked to the opportunities these spaces provide for social engagement that is not strongly regulated by adults.

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