While many have seamlessly folded social networking sites into their daily lives, few are aware of the ways in which these spaces function and their potential implications. Using Facebook as a case study, this project catalogues and analyzes social networking site affordances. At www.angelacirucci.com/thestructuredself, I have created an exhibit of Facebook’s granted affordances along with related Help Center content, news stories, forum posts, and analyses. The site is organized through seven categories: the Sign Up Page, the About page, Friends, Photographs, Timeline, Likes, and Cookies. Each section displays and explains some of the more prominent identification selections along with related content and my own analysis, including an interpretation of Facebook’s User Agreement legalese.
As a digital component to my doctoral dissertation, a goal of this project is to make Facebook’s constituent parts, many of them “behind-the-scenes,” more visible, allowing general users to better comprehend how their personal content is collected, manipulated, and repurposed. My informative site also provides tips for users who would like to enact some agency and take control of their digital identifications.
Additionally, my hope is that this site will be used in classrooms to help students learn safe online practices, along with ways to create positive digital footprints. The site will also help educators bridge the school and home media usage gap, teaching social media literacy through Facebook without necessarily asking students to log into their own accounts or even discuss their private performances.
Themes addressed will include technology and social identity and roles; technology and education; and the changing nature of humanities research and scholarship.