I am very happy to announce that danah boyd and I are the recipients of a Digital Trust Foundation grant to study the privacy experiences of low-socioeconomic status populations. This is a topic that danah and I have been working together on for more than five years; our papers on drama and bullying [pdf] and networked privacy [paywall] are both based on a large-scale, diverse study of teenage experience online. I also delved into this with my work with the Aspen Institute’s Task Force on Learning and the Internet. In all these projects, it’s been clear that young people experience the internet quite differently based on social class. Unfortunately, most studies of privacy focus on middle and upper-middle class populations.
This project will allow danah and I to focus on low-SES young people and their framings of privacy, both on and offline. As well as producing an academic journal article, we plan on making our findings widely available to policy-makers, technologists, and educators.
We will be working on this project starting this August and concluding in 2016. The work is being done through the Data & Society Research Institute, where I am a research affiliate.
Grantee: Data & Society Research Institute
Project: Reframing Privacy
When policymakers, advocates, educators, and technologists invoke the term privacy in an effort to protect low-status individuals, are they using frames that resonate with those communities? If not, are different groups using different language to describe the same experiences and concerns, or are we talking about different concerns altogether? The goal of this study is to better understand the language and framing of privacy issues by low-SES communities who may not use the terms or the rubrics of mainstream debates. To address this gap in knowledge, we will conduct qualitative research with teenagers and young adults (ages 16-26) in low-SES communities near New York City to understand how they talk about efforts to control information flow, manage social situations, and otherwise engage in protective practices discussed by privacy researchers. This research will produce empirical data about cultural frames and expectations in order to build more effective policies, technologies, and educational interventions.