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Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture eTheses
Title: Privacy and Power in Social Space: Facebook
Author(s): Buchanan, Margot A.
Supervisor(s): Meikle, Graham
Haynes, Richard
Keywords: social network; participation; interaction; privacy; power
Issue Date: Dec-2011
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: In this thesis I examine the impact of interaction and participation on Facebook between private individuals and certain hierarchical groups in society, particularly with regard to individual privacy; consider the structure of Facebook’s privacy programming; and seek to establish where the balance of power lies between private individuals and commercial, political and media organisations. I make reference to Foucault’s theory of power, Bourdieu’s theories of power in social space and habitus and Althusser’s theory of interpellation as I record my research. This thesis is a qualitative research project, and I employ Critical Discourse Analysis as the principal research methodology. I focus on four cases studies: Facebook both as the internet platform which facilitates such interaction and the company which operates it; the developers of applications, such as online games, which are mounted on the platform; the network’s use by political parties and their leaders during the UK 2010 General Election campaign; and traditional media platforms as represented by two television annual ‘events’. My findings relate the manner in which individual users are constantly prompted to upload content, principally personal information, thoughts, preferences and relationships to the network, and simultaneously are pressurised into granting access to this information as they seek to fully participate on the social platform. This pressure is applied through applications that are mounted on the platform by commercial, media and political organisations, and I find that Facebook’s affordances to applications developers are instrumental in this process. My research associates these processes with the aforementioned theories of Foucault, Althusser and Bourdieu. My conclusion is that while Facebook continually revises its privacy policy to grant private individuals control over the content, that is the personal information, they upload to the social network, access to this information is a prerequisite for their full participation in the network. Facebook’s continuous introduction of new programmes ensures that private individuals have to choose between interaction and participation on the social network, or exclusion as access to many of the activities it offers is conditional on third party access to their personal information. Further pressure to grant access to the required information is applied through the ability of organisations to feature photographs of users’ Friends who are already using the relevant application. The processes indicate that Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is slowly progressing his aim to place the social network at the centre of a newly structured Web based on private individuals.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Communications, Media and Culture

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