The Rules of Engagement: Managing Boundaries, Managing Identities

  • Stacy Blasiola University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Airi Lampinen Stockholm University
  • Asko Lehmuskallio University of Tampere
  • Sander Schwartz IT University of Copenhagen
  • Suvi Uski University of Helsinki
Keywords: Boundary Management, Privacy, Identity, SNS


This panel takes the conference theme "Internet Rules" to heart by delving into the rules that govern information disclosure and acquisition. All of the papers are grounded in privacy theory--ranging from networked privacy to boundary work--but each offers a unique perspective on areas of internet research such as identity management, privacy, and politics. Taken together, these papers present an overview of the various rules of online engagement.

"Other People's Privacy: A Case Study of the Ashley Madison Data Breach" asks what privacy rules look like when considered from the aspect of information acquisition. It argues that the act of acquiring information--especially when that information is available because of a known privacy violation--reveals as much about privacy values as does the act of disclosing in the first place. It asks "Do the rules change when they pertain to other people's information?" Using Twitter data, it presents results from a conversation and discourse analysis of Ashley Madison tweets to reveal a hierarchy of social norms, one in which privacy values operate as a function of other social norms.

The rules of interaction between teachers and students have seen a number of changes as a result of social networking technologies that are introduced to the learning environment. "Teachers’ Experiences of Boundary Turbulence: The Case of Wilma in Finnish High Schools" investigates boundary management conducted by teachers learning to adjust to a new method of engagement with students. It asks (1) how teachers regulate interpersonal boundaries in the presence of this system and (2) how they cope with challenges that the introduction of such a system causes. This case study sheds lights on the creation of new boundaries by teachers used to manage professional and personal life.

For many, the idea of talking about politics on Facebook is akin to talking about religion at a bar: It's simply against the rules. "Political, Public, and Proud! What We Can Learn From the Minority of Citizens Who Experiment With Political Communication on Facebook" presents a study of individuals who ignore this unwritten rule and use Facebook as a space to discuss political topics. Using in-depth and longitudinal observation of Facebook profiles, focus groups and individual interviews with ten Danish citizens who used Facebook for sharing political opinions it develops a model that explains the process of status updates as the transition from private thinking, to public thinking, and finally public communication.

"Profile Work for Preserving Privacy on Social Network Sites" offers an explanation of the links between privacy and identity. Playing on the rules of authenticity, it fleshes out how the changed dynamics of self-presentation create a threat towards one's networked privacy. Drawing on three key differences between offline and online identity management (role dynamic, temporality, and communication realm) it argues that prolonged identity performance, as required by SNS such as Facebook, presents challenges to networked privacy by requiring extensive profile work from its users. It argues in favor of a recent turn in SNS profile features, one that shortens identity performances decreases the need for profile work, helping users to maintain their authenticities within their social realms.
How to Cite
Blasiola, S., Lampinen, A., Lehmuskallio, A., Schwartz, S., & Uski, S. (2016). The Rules of Engagement: Managing Boundaries, Managing Identities. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 6.