USER’S DIGITAL IMAGINARIES OF SELF USURPED THROUGH WORK: WHY USERS AUTONOMY IS AT RISK

Jacinta Buchbach

Abstract


This paper argues that employers are dictating standards of online behaviour that unduly restrict the ability of users to manage their imagined identities and audiences on social media. Users carefully manage their personal and professional identities online and offline in an effort to avoid blurring of these domains. They exercise some degree of choice in segmenting or integrating their personal and professional domains. Whilst much of the rhetoric around the management of identity in social media revolves around autonomous choice in sharing practices and the affordances and process of platforms, socially engaged employees have little control over the way they manage their personal and professional boundaries. In fact, the social media policies adopted by some organisations actively deprive users of autonomy in how they manage these domains. By conducting a legal analysis of social media policies through the theoretical lens of boundary theory, I argue that restrictive policies impede an employee’s ability to manage their identities by collapsing boundaries which facilitate further blurring of domains. These insights give rise to legal concerns about the enforceability of these policies against employees.


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