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Co-creating Life and Death on Social Media?

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Most scholarly discussions of social media activities and profiles tend to work from the assumption that there is an active user driving that profile who has sufficient agency to manage, perform, edit or present a certain identity as they see fit. Solutions to privacy and other concerns often relate to increasing user agency and control. However, what about those situations in which a user is unable to be in control? Looking at the ends of identity – birth and death – a number of complications arise. What responsibility do parents, guardians and others have in representing and performing a child’s identity before that young person is able to manage online tools themselves? Similarly, when a person dies their material form ceases but their digital legacy persists. These issues are exacerbated by the push toward an internet driven by real names and singular identities. With these examples in mind, I would like to explore the notion of social media identities as co-created.

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Co-creating Life and Death on Social Media?

  1. 1. Co-creating Life and Death on Social Media? Dr Tama Leaver, Curtin University Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J 23.10.2013
  2. 2. Outline  MOAR Agency?  The Ends of Identity: Birth and Death  Online Identities and Co-Creativity? IR14 Preconference Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J 23.10.2013
  3. 3. I. MOAR AGENCY Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  4. 4. The Networked Self / Networked Publics  Persistance  Replicability  Scalability  Searchability (boyd, 2010)  + Ownership (Aufderheide, 2010) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  5. 5. Identity 2.0 (Helmond, 2010)  In Perpetual Beta  Networked  (other) User-generated identity  Distributed  Indexed  Persistent Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  6. 6. Web Presence (Allen, 2010; Leaver, 2010)  Internet Footprints  Digital Shadows  Social Media Rivers  From “user-generated content” to “Content-generated users.” Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  7. 7. 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).  BUT what about identities not tied to users with agency? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  8. 8. II. The Ends of Identity? Birth & Death Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  9. 9. 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? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  10. 10. 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) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  11. 11. 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? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  12. 12. Parents: Framing Online Identities? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  13. 13. The Shift to Real Names (nymwars) … Single database point. All activity connected … (It’s harder to play when nothing goes away.) Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  14. 14. Also … Shadow profiles (Facebook’s non-user database). Facial recognition (all profile pictures; likely soon all pictures). Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  15. 15. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  16. 16. 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? Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  17. 17. Facebook: Memorialize or Delete  Source: https://www.facebook.com/help?page=842 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  18. 18. Facebook: Memorializing Accounts  Source: https://www.facebook.com/help?page=842 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  19. 19. No ownership  No digital assets, no digital will.  ‘Rights’ revert to Facebook. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  20. 20. 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 (Marwick and boyd, 2011).  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 Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  21. 21. It’s hard to sell ads to dead people. But you can sell ads at the funeral. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  22. 22. III. Online Identities and Co-Creativity Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  23. 23. Co-Creativity?  Initially developed to describe increasing user input into design of videogames (Banks & Humphreys 2008; Banks and Potts 2010).  Co-creativity emphasises: 1.Meaningful/influential user input into design/creation. 2.Recognises unequal power relationship between companies and users. 3.Focuses collaborative media creation. 4.Emphasises users as an active community, not just individuals. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J
  24. 24. Co-Creating Identities 1. Meaningful/influential user input  not just using a platforms affordances as intended, but also pushing beyond, and at times arguing for new ones (eg memorialisation). 2. Unequal user/company power relations  influence doesn’t mean equal standing (design, affordances, privacy policies, EULAs etc.). 3. Focuses collaborative media creation  identity as ‘media’ highlights its longevity and value for users and companies/platforms (as meaning, as legacy, as history, and as raw material for ‘big data’). 4. Emphasises users as an active community, not just individuals  many people ‘create’ an individual’s online identity; at the ends, it’s the dance between other users and the company/platform that ‘creates’ the most. (Parents/guardians/etc create kids online; families/friends continue to create someone’s online legacy once them pass away). IR14 Preconference Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J 23.10.2013
  25. 25. 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.  Banks, J., & Humphreys, S. (2008). The Labour of User Co-Creators: Emergent Social Network Markets? Convergence, 14(4), 401–418.  Banks, J., & Potts, J. (2010). Co-creating games: a co-evolutionary analysis. New Media Society, 12(2), 253–270.  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.pdf.  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.  Marwick, A. E., & boyd, danah. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114 –133. doi:10.1177/1461444810365313  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. Curtin University is a trademark of Curtin University of Technology CRICOS Provider Code 00301J

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