A BALANCING ACT: PUTTING UP BOOKSHELVES ON A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM
Keywords:social media, user-generated content, Goodreads, forums
This paper addresses the theme of this year’s conference by focusing on the issue of trust in the uneasy relationship between content-generating users and commercially owned platforms. In this paper, I will present a case study of the use of so-called ‘bookshelves’ on Goodreads which offers a distinct example illustrating how a social media platform will often tests its users’ trust as it seeks ways to capitalize on its users’ engagement and contributions while still preserving the atmosphere of a social network built for and with its users. Bookshelves constitute a key element in making Goodreads a space users can feel ‘at home’ in. In the paper, I show how this becomes clear when considering users responses’ to Goodreads policies on bookshelves. I focus specifically on three different examples of negotiations of trust that have emerged in relation to the platform’s policies on bookshelves. The study draws particularly on discourse analysis with a focus on narrative and organizational metaphors, and the aim is to identify central points of ambivalence in users’ attempts to balance their trust in the platform.