AM Posters 2009 START Conference Manager    

Online Disclosure Neither Now nor Never: How Would a "Later" Button Work?

Jacob Kramer-Duffield and Terrell Russell

(Submission #62)


Research has repeatedly shown that computer-mediated communications (CMC) lead to higher levels of disclosure of personal information (Tidwell and Walther 2002). Recent studies have examined the role of increasingly common social media and social network services (SNS) on disclosure in a variety of contexts (Mazer et al. 2007; Tufekci 2008). The combination of personal demographic data, taste preferences, public disclosure of friend networks and now increasing usage of tools for instantly updating status (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) has fundamentally altered users' understanding of the temporality of information and its (semi-)permanence. A recent exploratory study investigated users' willingness to disclose information with respect to how long ago that information may have been created or captured. Users were more willing to share items as time passed, and a major finding included a latent willingness (40% of sharing scenarios) to disclose information at a later date, neither "now" nor "never" (Russell and Kramer-Duffield 2009). A recently released piece of software augmenting Twitter - HootSuite - advertises among its chief selling points the ability to "pre-schedule tweets" (Twitter messages).

This study further explicates these findings by examining in greater detail the nature of the role of temporality in disclosure willingness. Initial investigations suggested that while there is a "now, later, never" tripartite division in terms of disclosure willingness, users make less fine-grained and more binary distinctions in terms of audience and intimacy level of information. This is perhaps due to the flattening effect of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which mostly allow you to say "yes" or "no" in determining whether someone is your "friend" or whether a piece of information should be shared at all.

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