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Randoms in my bedroom: Negotiating privacy and unsolicited contact on social network sites

Author(s): Brady Robards

Journal: PRism Online PR Journal
ISSN 1448-4404

Volume: 7;
Issue: 3;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: public relations | social network sites | MySpace | Facebook | internet | social relationships | privacy | Australia

The immense popularity of social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook has caused a significant shift in the way social interactions occur on the internet. Online interaction is no longer the sole domain of people seeking contact but rather it has become a key medium for maintaining and strengthening social relationships. This article draws on empirical research investigating emerging social practices being developed by young Australian internet users on social network sites. Consistent with other current research, this article argues that social network sites are increasingly regarded as private spaces where young people are ‘hanging out’ and articulating or playing with notions of identity and belonging. Some social networks have even been likened to bedrooms for teenagers, or are arguably replacing shopping centres and parks as spaces for casual youth interaction. Based on empirical research, this article tests these metaphors and suggests measures to strengthen their validity. As multiple social relationships are collapsed under the banner of Friendship on social network sites, important issues about privacy and audience management need to be addressed. What constitutes ‘Friendship’ in the Facebook era? How do young people deal with unsolicited contact in these private spaces? This article argues that young users of social network sites on the Gold Coast in Australia are, consistent with research being conducted throughout the world, developing increasingly complex strategies for managing their online privacy and social interactions.
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