Smile, snap, and share? A nuanced approach to privacy and online photo-sharing

Eden Litt*, Eszter Hargittai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Photo-sharing has become a ubiquitous activity thanks to digital tools both for taking and for disseminating photographs. How selective are people in choosing the audience with which they share their photos of everyday life and friends? Are there systematic differences in people's related privacy choices? Studies tend to take a dichotomous approach to online sharing by either looking at whether people share or not share online, or whether they share publicly or privately. In reality, users' privacy decisions are more complex. Using survey data representing a diverse group of college students, this paper takes a more granular approach to understanding photo-sharing practices. The results highlight that traditional factors that have long influenced privacy management practices offline continue to shape privacy behaviors online, like gender. However, simultaneously, new factors outside of these traditional frameworks related to users' digital media experiences also influence people's online privacy management, like their digital experiences during childhood. This more nuanced perspective on privacy brings to light new insights on past counterintuitive and widely understood findings from studies that have conceptualized privacy as a binary construct, and it adds a new understanding of how people reveal and conceal aspects of themselves as they negotiate their social boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Internet use
  • Online participation
  • Photo-sharing
  • Photos
  • Privacy
  • Sharing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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