Events / Remember When Nobody Knew You Were a Dog? Anonymity, Identity and Location in Online Social Environments

Remember When Nobody Knew You Were a Dog? Anonymity, Identity and Location in Online Social Environments

April 10, 2018
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

ISGMH’s Social Media Working Group presents

“Remember When Nobody Knew You Were a Dog? Anonymity, Identity and Location in Online Social Environments”

with Dr. Jeremy Birnholtz

 

Talk Abstract: Once upon a time, interacting anonymously online meant talking to strangers who could be anywhere in the world and knew very little about you, and about whom you knew very little. Thanks to GPS, ubiquitous mobile devices and an array of recent apps, however, we can now very easily connect anonymously with friends and strangers who are physically nearby. And as anybody who has read reports of (or experienced) cyberbullying or used apps like Grindr/Tinder/Scruff to meet, um, friends can tell you, local anonymity is very different. In this talk I will be reporting on several recent studies (including two still in progress!) of activity on Facebook, Instagram and Grindr that explore how location-awareness and interacting with local and distant strangers affects the nature of our interactions and self-presentation. Results suggest that people may feel more free to discuss sensitive topics or explore stigmatized identities when anonymous, but also that being local increases their concerns about being recognized by others.

 

A headshot of Jeremy Birnholtz.Bio: Jeremy Birnholtz is an associate professor in the Departments of Communication Studies and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University. He recently served two stints as a visiting professor at Facebook, working on data science and user experience research teams. Jeremy’s research aims to understand how people interact and engage with each other in a range of online contexts, via a focus on understanding and exploiting mechanisms of human attention and identity management. His work has been published in top HCI journals and conferences, and supported by the National Science Foundation, Google, and Facebook.

 

About the Social Media Working Group (SMWG): The SMWG consists of an interdisciplinary team of Northwestern scholars, students, and staff involved in projects related to social media and sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations. The aims of the working group are to share knowledge; foster cross-campus collaborations to advance the study of SGM and social media; and build connections with SGM social media influencers, users, and industry members; with the ultimate goal of better understanding SGM populations and promoting SGM health and wellbeing through social media.

 

Folks are welcome to join this talk remotely using BlueJeans.

 

Please RSVP to attend this talk!