North Carolina State University
United States of America

Tabita Moreno Beccera is a Ph.D. student at the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media (CRDM) program at North Carolina State University, and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication at Universidad de Concepción, Chile. Her research interests are focused on how mobile interfaces and computer-mediated communication reshape individuals’ communicative practices.

Mobile social networking and privacy concerns: young adults’ strategies to protect their privacy while broadcasting personal information

Social Networks Sites (SNSs) have become a massively used Internet service across the world. Like other countries, Chile presents high levels of SNSs usage penetration rate (93%), being young people the most frequent users of these services. In addition, social networking has been enhanced with the increasing use of mobile devices, allowing individuals to update their online profiles from a variety of mobile devices whenever and wherever they want to do it. Thus, users of mobile social network sites continually update their status with a wide range of information as part of their everyday life practices.

That information is available to their contacts, but many times it is also open to public access. Although the implications for privacy in the context of SNSs have been studied, there is a lack of empirical research that considers the new scenarios produced by the increasing use of mobile devices in relation to social networking and privacy concerns. Precisely, this study analyzes how Chilean Facebook’s users (young adults aged 25-34 from the metropolitan area of Concepción, Chile) are experiencing those new means of communication and their attitudes in relation to their privacy while sharing information through SNSs in a daily basis. This paper will present empirical findings on how young adult Facebook’ users reconcile their behaviors of broadcasting personal information through mobile social networking with their privacy concerns. Through ethnographic work and interview data, this paper will report how Chilean Facebook’ users protect their personal privacy while sharing information. Understanding that the concept of privacy is socially constructed and needs to be contextually thought as a process of balancing privacy and disclosure with a clear sense of control over information, some initial findings show that these Chilean Facebook users do care about their privacy, particularly social privacy. They think about what information can be accessed by their Facebook friends, adopting different strategies in order to protect their personal privacy and defining with whom they want to share specific content. Since they feel having control over the information they share, they do not see Facebook as a threat to their personal privacy/collateral surveillance.