How do people represent themselves on Facebook?
November 24, 2011 2:09 AM   Subscribe

Representing identity online - can you point me to interesting research into the way people represent themselves on the internet (and in particular Facebook)?

This has come up in a specific context, but it's also got me interested at a broader level. How do people tend to decide what to report and leave out of their Facebook feeds? Is it just like the 'real world' - some people are optimists, some people are moaners? Or are there subtle differences?

Ideally I'm after what I might term "MeFi-level" references: something an intelligent person can understand without having specialised psychology knowledge (like the sort of stuff Jonah Lehrer writes). But if you've got a link to psychology review let me have it. (I'm finding it hard to Google this because i don't have the psychology background to know the terms I should be using, and Facebook's ubiquity means it is almost useless as a search term.)

The specific context:
A friend works as a conciliator for a union. She is increasingly finding that insurance companies are using injured worker's Facebook statuses as a way to discredit them. Apparently not commenting on an injury on Facebook can get used as circumstantial evidence against an injured worker in a conciliation meeting, even if I'm pretty confident in court it would be considered irrelevant. I'm trying to give my friend some tools to effectively argue that not commenting on an injury does not indicate that an injury didn't happen.
posted by puffmoike to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Look at danah boyd's work. Her research papers are quite accessible.
posted by djb at 2:48 AM on November 24, 2011

Beaten to it. danah boyd is definitely the person to start with.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:11 AM on November 24, 2011

I came here to say "danah boyd" but looks like I'm a little late. You should really read danah boyd's work.
posted by Alterscape at 12:32 PM on November 24, 2011

danah also maintains a bibliography of research on social network sites (which is the academic term for sites like Facebook), so you will want to look through there, as well.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:44 PM on November 24, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the heads up on Danah Boyd. She's certainly in the right territory

I haven't yet found exactly what I'm assuming exists (of course it may not), but she should prove a good source of search terms and links to other people in the field.
posted by puffmoike at 7:29 PM on November 24, 2011

Nicole Ellison
posted by k8t at 3:57 AM on November 26, 2011

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