Birth, Death and Facebook

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While social media services including the behemoth Facebook with over a billion users, promote and encourage the ongoing creation, maintenance and performance of an active online self, complete with agency, every act of communication is also recorded. Indeed, the recordings made by other people about ourselves can reveal more than we actively and consciously chose to reveal about ourselves. The way people influence the identity and legacy of others is particularly pronounced when we consider birth – how parents and others ‘create’ an individual online before that young person has any identity in their online identity construction – and at death, when a person ceases to have agency altogether and becomes exclusively a recorded and encoded data construct. This seminar explores the limits and implications for agency, identity and data personhood in the age of Facebook.

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Birth, Death and Facebook

  1. 1. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Dr Tama Leaver, Centre for Culture and Technology. Birth, Death and Facebook 25.09.2013
  2. 2. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Overview.  Identities and agency online.  Facebook and (pre) birth.  Facebook and death.  Conclusions and directions. 25.09.2013
  3. 3. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J I. Identities online and agency?
  4. 4. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J The Networked Self / Networked Publics  Persistance  Replicability  Scalability  Searchability (boyd, 2010)  + Ownership (Aufderheide, 2010)
  5. 5. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Identity 2.0 (Helmond, 2010)  In Perpetual Beta  Networked  (other) User-generated identity  Distributed  Indexed  Persistent
  6. 6. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Web Presence (Allen, 2010; Leaver, 2010)  Internet Footprints  Digital Shadows  Social Media Rivers  From “user-generated content” to “Content-generated users.”
  7. 7. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Shared assumptions of Identity 2.0, the Networked Self, and Web Presence  Individual agency is central.  Presumption that identity should be controlled, curated and managed by the ‘self’ being presented.  When agency is not the controlling influence, this is seen as an issue to be overcome (eg better privacy settings).
  8. 8. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J What about the Ends of Identity?  Following Erving Goffman (1959) if frontstage is self performed, and backstage is more essential self, who builds the stage, and who remembers the performance(s)? Before (online) agency: before birth, until the ‘reigns’ of online identity tools and performances are inherited? After (online) agency: who looks after online traces of self once the self they refer to dies?
  9. 9. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J II. Facebook and (pre) birth
  10. 10. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Facebook: Deletes Kids Source: https://www.facebook.com/help/search/?q=kids+on+facebook
  11. 11. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J But … Timeline: Starts at birth.
  12. 12. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J The emergence of such social media platforms as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, Bundlr and YouTube facilitating the sharing of images has allowed the wide dissemination of imagery and information about the unborn in public forums. Indeed, sharing of the first ultrasound photograph on social media has become a rite of pregnancy for many women. (Lupton, 2013, p. 42) 25.09.2013
  13. 13. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Parents as initial identity curators …  Parents/guardians set the initial parameters of online identity.  From ultrasounds photos to cute toddler pics, losing that first tooth etc …  How do and should young people ‘inherit’ online identities?
  14. 14. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Parents: Framing Online Identities?
  15. 15. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J The Shift to Real Names (nymwars) … Single database point. All activity connected …
  16. 16. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Also …  Surveillance vs sousveillance (not without agency).  Shadow profiles (Facebook’s non-user database).  Facial recognition (all profile pictures; likely soon all pictures). 25.09.2013
  17. 17. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Infants becoming big data … 25.09.2013 http://owletcare.com/
  18. 18. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  19. 19. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J III. Facebook and death
  20. 20. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Memorializing Performed Digital Selves?  What happens to profiles, accounts, photos, videos and other social traces after someone dies?  Do we have the right to delete it all?  Should it be memorialized?
  21. 21. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Timeline: Curate Losses
  22. 22. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Facebook: Memorialize or Delete  Source: https://www.facebook.com/help?page=842
  23. 23. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Facebook: Memorializing Accounts  Source: https://www.facebook.com/help?page=842
  24. 24. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J No ownership  No digital assets, no digital will.  ‘Rights’ revert to Facebook. 25.09.2013
  25. 25. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Facebook …  ALL (memorial) or NOTHING (deleted).  No CURATION of the final memorialised page. (Many loved ones ‘drive’ the account after someone dies since they’ve been left the password).  CONTEXT COLLAPSE.  Memorialised = space to remember, space to post about the deceased.  Also memorial pages (created specifically, not timelines) but that brings the grief trolls. 25.09.2013
  26. 26. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J It’s hard to sell ads to dead people. But you can sell ads at the funeral.
  27. 27. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J It might be silly, but it’s still part of our legacy …
  28. 28. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J IV. Conclusions and directions …
  29. 29. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Where does this fit?  1st generation internet studies: identity play, gender play, avatars, utopian notions of community (be whoever, whatever, no boundaries)  2nd generation internet studies: it’s all connected, online and offline are just the everyday (social networks, mobile web, real names)  3rd generation internet studies (?): the nuances – it’s all connected, but different, too (communicating vs creating media; birth, death, ownership, being big data) 25.09.2013
  30. 30. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J This is history not just communication. PRISM and so forth showed that once data is gathered, it’s a Pandora’s box; no one can resist looking inside to see what that might ‘say’, no matter how poorly that might be understood. Big data needs big ethics, and we don’t have them yet. 25.09.2013
  31. 31. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J References  Allen, M. (2009). Web Presence: Understanding persistent and interlinked content as the basis of identity formation and promotion through the contemporary Internet, Communication, Creativity and Global Citizenship: Australia and New Zealand Communications Association Annual Conference, Brisbane.  Aufderheide, P. (2010). Copyright, Fair Use, and Social Networks. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 274-303). Routledge.  boyd, danah. (2010). Social Network Sites and Networked Publics: Affordances, Dymanics and Implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39-58). Routledge.  Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Anchor Book.  Helmond, A. (2010). Identity 2.0: Constructing identity with cultural software. www.annehelmond.nl, PDF: http://www.annehelmond.nl/wordpress/wp-content/uploads//2010/01/helmond_identity20_dmiconference.pd .  Leaver, T. (2010) I tweet therefore I am? Challenges in learning identity by teaching web presence, Teaching and Learning Forum, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup.  Lupton, D. (2013). The Social Worlds of the Unborn. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.  Papacharissi, Z. (2010). Conclusion: A Networked Self. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 304-318). Routledge. 11 October 2011Internet Research 12, Seattle.
  32. 32. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J Questions to ponder … 1. How have you experienced the circulation of media about babies and young people on social media (or if not using social media, are other electronic forms used)? 2. How do YOU want to be remembered when you die? (Online at all?) 3. Where should parents learn about social media and communication? (At parenting lessons? Online? Where else?) 25.09.2013

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