Utilizing Communication Privacy Management to Explore Responses                                                        to ...
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“You Need to Back Off”: Utilizing Communication Privacy Management Theory to Explore Responses to Public and Private Negative Interpersonal Disclosures on Facebook

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ABSTRACT: One of the most interesting features of social media sites is that they provide both private and public contexts in which to share messages. Studies have suggested that people perceive interpersonal messages differently based on this characteristic, but less is known about how people may intend to respond to messages based on their access exclusivity. Building upon a previous study in this area, the current study examined people’s responses to a hypothetical situation in which they received a negative interpersonal disclosure of varying intensity either publicly or privately through Facebook. Data suggest that privately-disclosed messages elicited more uncertainty and more uncertainty reduction behaviors. Publicly-disclosed messages caused recipients to feel more offended about the content, express privacy violation concerns, and delete the offending content. These findings are discussed for their theoretical value, and limitations and directions for future research are as well.

Goldman, Z., Bowman, N. D., & Westerman, D. (2013, April).“You need to back off:” Utilizing communication privacy management theory to explore responses to public and private interpersonal disclosures on Facebook. Paper presented at the Broadcast Education Association Research Symposium “Media and Social Life: The Self, Relationships, and Society,” Las Vegas.

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“You Need to Back Off”: Utilizing Communication Privacy Management Theory to Explore Responses to Public and Private Negative Interpersonal Disclosures on Facebook

  1. 1. Utilizing Communication Privacy Management to Explore Responses to Public and Private Negative Interpersonal Disclosures on Facebook Background Method Facebook is an increasingly-popular space for disclosing and sharing interpersonal Online Survey with six experimental conditions information. Disclosures can be public or private, reflecting differences in message varying MAC (public or private) and emotional access exclusivity (MAC; O’Sullivan, 2004). CPM proposes that public or private disclosure intensity (low, moderate, or high). of one’s relationship information might be perceived as boundary violations for those involved. RQ1: Does the degree of message access exclusivity of a negative N = 131 students read a randomly-assigned vignette interpersonal disclosure impact people’s stated response to dealing with and were asked to craft an open ended response.. that disclosure? Responses were coded using an iterative thematic The intensity of an online disclosure is also important (Anderson & Agarwal, 2011). analysis, with one round of three untrained coders and More emotionally intense messages might elicit stronger rebukes. one round of two expert coders. RQ2: Does the degree of intensity of a negative interpersonal disclosure impact people’s stated response to dealing with the disclosure? Lo: I’m been thinking about lastAbstract night… Results Mid: I’m really upset aboutSocial media sites such as Facebook provide (1) 10 themes of responses emerged from databoth private and public contexts in which to something you did last night… 1. Channel concerns 6. Acceptanceshare and disclose messages. From a 2. information seeking 7. Deletion Hi: What you did last night wascommunication perspective, this function can $@%&! 3. Uncertainty 8. Immediacyallow for diverse responses and reactions to 4. Privacy 9. Confrontationonline disclosures depending on the message 5. Offended 10.Relational maintenanceaccess exclusivity. Thus, the purpose of the “…We need to talk.”current study was to investigate how (2) Responses differed as a function of MACindividuals would respond to negativeinterpersonal disclosures across the differing Public led to Private led tochannels of exclusivity (private and public)using the theoretical perspective of more… more…Communication Privacy Management Offended Information SeekingTheory (Petronio, 2002). Deletion Anxiety (High Intensity) Privacy Concerns Acceptance (Mid Intensity) West Virginia University Zachary W. Goldman Department of Communication Studies (zgoldman@mix.wvu.edu) Nick Bowman, Ph.D. Media and Interaction Lab David Westerman, Ph.D.

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