"GOOD SOCIAL MEDIA?": UNDERREPRESENTED YOUTH PERSPECTIVES ON THE ETHICAL AND EQUITABLE DESIGN OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Keywords:youth, social media, design, ethics, equity
This study investigates underrepresented youths’ perspectives on social media design and how these may inform the development of more ethical and equitable social media apps. In contrast to the tradition of universal design in the field of human-computer interaction, this research centers difference to investigate how users’ perspectives and expectations, shaped by their identities, help determine the affordances of social media and their ethical implications. Twenty-five in-depth interviews and youth-guided “think aloud” social media tours were carried out with a diverse range of young people from underrepresented groups. Findings illustrate how young people perceive and experience empowering and disempowering aspects of social media design. Interviewees expressed a palpable sense of underrepresentation in the digital technology design sector and noted several ways in which design elements of social media can exacerbate a sense of inadequacy. The negative implications of user profile design and popularity rating systems that encourage conformity were found to be of particular concern for low-income youth, youth of color, and other underrepresented groups. However, our findings also illuminate youth perceptions on how social media can sometimes serve as a tool to counter negative stereotypes and build social capital. The analysis includes concrete suggestions from underrepresented youth for more ethical and equitable social media design.