Referring to Jurgensen & Rey (2012), how are digital technologies affecting (in positive and/or negative ways) users’ privacy?

Belinda McKeon u3096561

The introduction of digital technologies has meant that what many people would consider as private information is now shared and available online. Every time we sign up to a website, which most digital natives do regularly, we share our name, email address, phone number, age and sometimes even address. There are both positive and negative aspects to our lives going online, especially in relation to privacy.

Jurgensen and Rey (2012) believe that although we share personal details online, we choose what to disclose and what to keep private, “Both publicity and privacy are part of any act of disclosure; one is the capacity to project while the other is the capacity to protect”. They suggest that internet users are in control of their privacy and the, “interplay between the revelation and concealment is, at least partially, responsible for the seductive quality of social media”. Being able to decide what we share on social media makes it a more exciting and enjoyable experience.

The following article conveys the mistrust of sharing personal information online, causing many people to provide false details about themselves:

Jurgensen and Rey’s (2012) article uses the metaphor of a fan dance to illustrate how social media users reveal and conceal information about themselves online. They explain that, “Social media would be far less enchanting if it was … complete … exposure of the self, or the full concealment of identity through universally anonymous profiles”.

A positive aspect of being able to control our online privacy is we are able to create our desired identity online. We choose which pictures we upload onto Facebook, and we are able to ‘untag’ ourselves from photos we don’t wish others to see on our profiles. We also decide what music and articles to share, and what our tweets and statuses say. Jurgensen and Rey (2012) discuss this concept as a “front stage performance”, where the social media users present “idealised versions of the self, which requires a great deal of work and preparation beyond what is visible in the performance itself”. Online we project an identity of the person we wish to be and do not necessarily share details about ourselves which we wish to keep private.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s goal “is to eliminate ‘conspiracies’ which he describes in network terms as ‘connected graphs’ or clusters of individuals that share information internally but deny it to those on the outside” (Jurgensen & Rey 2012). If there is corruption occurring it is important to inform society, making Wikileaks use of digital technology positive. However, Wikileaks holds a huge amount of power over large corporations and governments and is able to destroy them by revealing information that should be kept private for society’s benefit.

On several websites we explored in tutorials such as Reddit, users keep their identities completely private and interact anonymously. The benefit of this is one may feel more comfortable sharing and contributing when other users do not know who they are. However, not having your real-life identity connected to your account may mean that you troll and do not positively contribute to discussions.  

Hinton and Hjorth (2013) believe that “the availability of privacy controls does not thwart sharing but actually encourages it”. Having the ability to share selectively means that users are more likely to share information rather than keeping it secret. A concern for many users is that they are not in control of what their friends share about them online, including photos of them and their location. This is explored in a video for children below:

This video conveys that living in the present world means it is impossible to have a fully private life, there are cameras everywhere capturing moments of people’s lives:

Reference List:

Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding Social Media. Sage: London.

Jurgensen, N. & Rey, P. (2012). The Fan Dance: How Privacy Thrives in an Age of Hyperpublicity. Retrieved from:

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