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Communities and Web 2.0 Identity in Communities and Networks

Communication and Collaboration through Web 2.0 Affordances on Virtual Online Communities for Expression of Identity: Performance of Identity on Instagram

Abstract:

This paper will analyse, explain and discuss the ways in which online virtual communities have facilitated communication and collaboration on social networking sites (SNSs) using Web 2.0 affordances to bring out different aspects of identity. Instagram will be used as an example of a SNS to demonstrate the integration of features have enabled the exploration and performance of identity through the accessibility and simplicity of the platform. Erving Goffman’s theories and understanding of identity performance from his book ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ will be used to examine different types of identity. This paper will discuss how Instagram provides an online virtual community for content creation and sharing acting as an outlet for people to perform different identities in various ways in terms of – Goffman’s idea of ‘frontstage’ and backstage’ enabled through the structure of Instagram, complete online anonymity using pseudonyms through social media’s low barriers to entry and human identity through folksonomy.

Key words: audience, identity, Instagram, SNS, social media, performance(s), online, content creation, virtual communities, online communities, Web 2.0, communities

Introduction:

In a rapidly everchanging world, the emergence and accessibility of modern Web 2.0 and social networking sites (SNSs) have enabled us to constantly produce, be surrounded by and consume media. The unprecedented advancements in technology have resulted in an unconscious, natural and seamless integration of the Web into our lives, with this heavy reliance often being taken for granted. The peer to peer (P2P) structure of SNSs like Instagram, facilitates the communication and collaboration of users through the sharing of personal identity with others within a public sphere (Cardon & Cardon, 2007). The use of the Web and SNSs have become fully integrated into people’s lives and provides constant, open access to peers, especially for young people who have lived their lives knowing nothing else (Mascheroni, Vincent, & Jimenez, 2015). Erving Goffman’s 1956 book ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’ describes the ways in which different scenarios, audiences and platforms of communication can shift the ways that we present our identity and socially interact. Despite predating social media, Goffman’s theory of contextual performance in the ‘Presentation of Self’ is relevant today as the older forms of communication he examines are simply being interpreted and experienced on newer, modern platforms of media like Instagram, through the digitisation and convergence of Web 2.0 (Tobias, 2013). This convergence and digitisation of media technologies has meant the development of apps in which media content flows fluidly between platforms and mobile phones as a portable, singular device becoming the vehicle/device for mediating social interactions (Mascheroni, Vincent, & Jimenez, 2015). This paper will first discuss the idea of virtual online communities, secondly Goffman’s idea of ‘frontstage’ and ‘backstage’ identities, thirdly digital anonymity and lastly, folksonomy and human identity. Web 2.0 features on social networking sites (SNS) have facilitated communication and collaboration of communities and online networks to bring out different aspects of identity.

Virtual Online Communities:

Firstly, SNSs like Instagram have created virtual online communities that enable communication and collaboration of users in a public, social space for self-expression and search for identity. Porter (2015) describes virtual community as a group of individuals who interact and communicate around a shared interest guided by different protocols and norms that technology supports and/or mediates. From the very beginning when creating an account, Instagram asks for a name, email, username and password, then it encourages the user to add a profile picture and bio, follow accounts and discover hashtags, locations or topics on the ‘discovery’ tab. These actions all immediately starts to build the user’s online identity from the moment they join the app – what they like and dislike, who they know and interests, which is a standard, normalised SNS process on every platform. As cited in Van Der Nagel, E & Frith (2015), Chris Poole argued against the idea of online identity being viewed as a “mirror that reflects one true idea of self” but rather suggested that people are diamonds and identity is prismatic. Instagram is a platform that blurs the roles of user versus producer – from a voyeuristic or spectator point of view to the personal desire of self-expression and autonomy (Cardon & Cardon, 2007). The Instagram homepage is a collection of posts by people, topics or hashtags that the user follows providing an accessible and customisable ‘newsfeed’ unique to every individual. The large emphasis placed on content creation of users to construct their profile through the uploading of pictures allows for the constant update of identity overtime meaning (online) identity is never stagnant. Porter (2015) also describes SNSs as “community orientated” through the simultaneously balance of consuming media and content creation in the communication and collaboration of users in terms of “information, identity and relationship building”. Instagram provides the features and structure of the app (skeleton) and users themselves produce and dictate the rules, trends, etiquettes and norms that govern the app with users essentially navigating and determining the ways that Instagram as a social media platform is used (Cardon & Cardon, 2007). Thus, Instagram’s structure has allowed the creation of a virtual community that blends the viewing of other’s content and the posting/self-expression of personal identity.

Goffman: Frontstage and Backstage :

The basis of Instagram as a photo sharing app has emphasised communication and collaboration between users and the presentation of different identities depending on audience. In Erving Goffman’s book  ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life,’ he uses a metaphor of a theatre performance to explain the changes in identity from ‘frontstage’ to ‘backstage’ as individuals engage in “ongoing, selective self-presentation” to control situations termed “impression management” (Mascheroni, Vincent, & Jimenez, 2015). The creation of a public Instagram profile that anyone can look at and follow is presented very differently than an intimate private account with fewer, more consciously selective followers. Goffman’s idea of ‘impression management’ involves three steps, performance, interpretation and adjustment (Boyd, 2017). Performance consists of the user having the power to build their Instagram profile by choosing and deciding what aspect of their identity they wish to portray in terms of the types of photos, the aesthetics and overall presentation of the profile – what they openly want people to see. Interpretation of content on a public account by the audience being a mixture of people from close friends, to family, to colleagues or acquaintances means that content is generalised so everyone can understand the message being communicated. Adjustment includes feedback and response to content in which changes are made accordingly. People are validated and judged by others on social media where likes and comments equate to acceptance, popularity and hierarchy. As a result, photo editing apps like VSCO or Facetune are increasingly popular and used for filters and lighting but also to photoshop and alter physical features to appear more beautiful and give the illusion of ‘perfection’ (Mascheroni, Vincent, & Jimenez, 2015). Public profiles are deemed as ‘frontstage’ performances that are less intimate involving more distant friends or associates with a more casual relationship that is easily maintained called “weak ties” (Pearson, 2009). Second accounts commonly known as ‘finstas’ have become so popular that Instagram has added features to make it easy to switch between and add multiple Instagram accounts without having to log out of the app. These accounts are private accounts where the users have to physically accept and approve friend requests. This means a smaller, select audience where content is geared towards these highly intimate and emotional relationships termed “strong ties” (Pearson, 2009). This ‘backstage’ access involves a more candid aspect of the user’s identity where there is less emphasis on aesthetics but rather increases the performance of authenticity, posting content they know close friends will understand like inside jokes. This more relaxed content caters to the followers of finstas being people who the user feels more comfortable and ‘at home’ with and the increased performance of authenticity is a result of the familiarity and predictability of the audience (Hodkinson, 2017). Therefore, the settings of Instagram have catered for the increasing popularity of multiple Instagram accounts that each serve different purposes and where content posted brings out different aspects of a person’s identity depending on audience.

Online Freedom:

The limitless nature of the internet and lack of online policing has increased online freedom where digital identities do not have to correlate to the user in real life and people can hide behind their screens. Van Der Nagel, E & Frith (2015), recall when Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook said that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” and his sister said that “people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.” These comments suggest the idea that identity is singular – that who a user is offline should and does equate to who they are online, and that authenticity can only be achieved through complete openness. Although this may be truer for Facebook users where using real names is more common, for other platforms like Instagram, the Zuckerbergs do not take into consideration the navigation of SNSs and online privacy settings where it is normalised and more common to have different accounts for different purposes.

Full Anonymity:

Identity can be ambiguous for many reasons such as impersonations like catfishing, identity concealment for privacy, trolling and on an extreme, total anonymity (Donath, 2014). Trolling of celebrities is common where a person creates an account just to comment hate or criticism underneath Instagram posts that cannot be tied back to them in the real world. The digital online space provides people an opportunity to say what they would never say to a person’s face in real life by hiding behind their screen. Often the thoughts of being invincible online, having no consequences, not being found and ‘getting on the bandwagon’ all incentivise and create a common culture of trolling on Instagram. The word ‘Tea’ is online slang for juicy information and Tea accounts post content reporting to their followers the latest celebrity gossip where the profiles are intentionally constructed to be fully anonymous. Instead of buying traditional magazines from news agencies, celebrity gossip is now talked about and ‘exposed’ on popular ‘Tea’ accounts at no user monetary cost. Popular user handles like ‘Spill Sesh,’ ‘Shook’ and ‘Tea Spill’ have amassed millions of subscribers and followers building their online identity through Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The main content takes place on YouTube where videos are uploaded frequently discussing different celebrities, controversies or scandals and events happening on different social media platforms (TikTok) with a break down what happened, why and its importance. Twitter and Instagram are used for the promotion of each new video and generate discussion in the comments section by always ending the caption with a question to fans. This debate between a community of fans sharing a common interest becomes an outlet for them to converse in depth with one another about the details and conclusions on topics making their opinion heard and consequently feeling understood.

‘Tea’ Accounts:

The fast rise of these types of channels and the oversaturation is caused by the low barrier of entry where no authentication, requirements or resume is required and making a new social media account is incredibly easy and accessible. According to Social Blade (2020), the account ‘Spill’ currently has a following of 1.21 million people and makes up to $91.8k a month. Using a pseudonym helps to build the ‘Tea’ channel’s anonymous identity with the profile picture being the branding of the channel, the bio being about the content created rather than the person behind it and the voice narrating the videos being digitally altered, meaning that their reputation and ability to amass an audience is solely based on their content and ideas rather on who they are, age or gender (Donath, 2014). There have been discussions and controversies surrounding who the ‘Tea’ accounts are run by with some thinking teenagers whilst others debate whether real life companies are capitalising on this online drama and gossip culture and market. Videos and content posted are always uploaded quickly and frequently. They are well made and professional with voice overs with pictures and in-depth evidence always being presented satisfying the viewer’s expectations of quality and reliability. Ultimately, ‘Tea’ channels know their audience – engaging with them constantly on Instagram in their posts, highlights and stories and grabbing attention by making them feel like they are part of top-secret information and ‘in’ on industry secrets. Like traditional celebrity magazines, they entice their audience through immediacy, belonging, accessibility, fear of missing out (FOMO) and participatory culture. Privacy settings on Web 2.0 platforms such as Instagram have enabled anonymity to be normalised and can be used to bring different aspects of identity to light or create entirely new identities as a business venture.

Folksonomy and Human Identity:

The searchability of Web 2.0 on SNSs including Instagram has increased the communication and accessibility of information when global events happen that concern our human identity. The evolution of Web 2.0 includes the development of folksonomy as an advanced search system that filters mass amounts of content by tagging key terms (O’Reilly, 2005, p. 2). Folksonomy involves the collaboration of many users to tag related content such as a specific topic (no matter how niche) to each other through the use of hashtags on an image. When searched, a singular page can be viewed that collects and accumulates all information about the topic. COVID-19, an infectious virus currently spreading across the world, is a prime example that demonstrates the use and popularity of folksonomy. Multiple hashtag trends have arisen during the global isolation period such as #lockdown, #flattenthecurve, #stayathomechallenge, #quarantineandchill and more notably #stayhome. Instagram has used #stayhome to launch a “stay home” sticker that any user can add to their story which will be compiled into a shared Instagram story with accounts the user follows to view how others are practicing social distancing (Instagram, 2020). These hashtags serve as a way to both communicate and collaborate during this incredibly isolating time providing an outlet for emotional and mental health support through virtual human connection. The content under these hashtags range from people sharing activities they are doing, tips on self-care, sharing their quarantine schedule or creating entertaining and funny content for others to view. The combination of serious and lighthearted content is relatable and realistic for many people going through the different stages of isolation. Content creation and online sharing has united and comforted the online global community representing belonging, understanding, hope and an ‘all in this together’ message. The completely voluntary act of posting of content online demonstrates people’s natural instinct and yearn for human connection and relationships, bringing out the human aspect of identity by increasing the performance of emotional transparency and realistic honesty. Thus, the integration of folksonomy increases the searchability and assembly of information that enables communication and collaboration of a global virtual community appealing to the human aspect of identity.

Conclusion:

The creation of Web 2.0 and social networking sites (SNSs) has provided an outlet for self-expression of different types of identity. The evolution of the Web has made a seamless integration into our lives, facilitating much of the communication and collaboration in the world today. Convergence and digitisation of media technologies has developed virtual online communities on SNSs providing digital freedom to create a chosen online identity. Goffman’s idea of ‘frontstage’ and ‘backstage’ when applied to social media describes the changes in personality, behaviours and actions depending largely on audience and purpose of the profile. Anonymity on Instagram is common as identities created are not authenticated by authorities leaving room for activities such as trolling and provides opportunity for using pseudonyms to form completely new identities. Folksonomy as a build in feature on Instagram enables the collaboration of information by a range of users and communication of this information between people by the tagging of content and increased searchability of the web. As discussed above, the ways in which Instagram has developed as a platform for the discoverability and self-expression of identities has ultimately impacted the ways in which people communicate and collaborate online.

References:

Boyd, D. (2017). Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/22hq2

Cardon, D., & Cardon, C. (2007). The Strength of Weak Cooperation:an Attempt to Understand the Meaning of Web 2.0. In. St. Louis: Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis. https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/1699078441?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo

Donath, J. (2014). Communities in Cyberspace. In M. A. S. P. Kollock (Ed.), Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community.

Hodkinson, P. (2017). Bedrooms and beyond: Youth, identity and privacy on social network sites. New Media & Society, 19(2), 272-288. doi:10.1177/146144481560545

Instagram. (2020). Keeping People Informed, Safe, and Supported on Instagram. https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/coronavirus-keeping-people-safe-informed-and-supported-on-instagram

Mascheroni, G., Vincent, J,. & Jimenez, E. (2015).“Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(1), Article 5. https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2015-1-5

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What Is Web 2.0: Harnessing Collective Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=2

Pearson, E. (2009). All the World Wide Web’s a stage: The performance of identity in online social networks. First Monday, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v14i3.2162

Porter, C. E. (2015). Virtual Communities and Social Networks. L. Cantoni (ED.), J. A. Danowski (ED.), Communication and Technology (5, 161-180). De Gruyter, Inc. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/detail.action?docID=1759936

Social Blade. (2020). Spill. Social Blade. https://socialblade.com/youtube/channel/UC_Vl1oLTGjWYJLmbTpaqorQ

Tobias, E. S. (2013). Toward Convergence:Adapting Music Education to Contemporary Society and Participatory Culture. Music Educators Journal, 99(4), 29-36. doi:10.1177/0027432113483318

Van Der Nagel, E., & Frith, J. (2015). Anonymity, pseudonymity, and the agency of online identity: Examining the social practices of r/Gonewild. First Monday20(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i3.5615

19 replies on “Communication and Collaboration through Web 2.0 Affordances on Virtual Online Communities for Expression of Identity: Performance of Identity on Instagram”

Hi Amy,

I enjoyed reading your paper. Totally agree with what you mentioned at the beginning about SNSs have become fully integrated into people’s lives where in today’s world, everyone who holds a smartphone could potentially connect themselves with others online. I agree that Instagram accounts for each serves different purposes where content posted brings out different aspects of a person’s identity depending on the audience. I feel people in today’s world, teens and young adults especially, do really care about feedback and response that they receive from the public, and thus impact on their identity and self-presentation online.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts – Do you think some people choose to stay anonymous on Instagram or other social media sites because of insecurity as most people tend to show the best part of their life or what they’re enjoying online instead of posting their worst day on social media sites.

My paper focuses on the effect of Instagram on adolescent girls’ (age 13 to 18 years) social and emotional development (both positive and negative).
If you are looking for one to read in the Social Networks category, mine can be found here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-ups-and-downs-of-instagram-on-adolescent-girls-social-and-emotional-development/

Hi Kristina!
Thank you so much for your comments on my paper. I’m so happy to know that you enjoyed reading my paper. I found the relationship and dynamic of online users, their audience and online feedback so interesting and that is actually what sparked the idea of writing this paper!

I completely agree with your view that Instagram like all social media do tend to show the best parts and highlights of peoples lives. I think that the freedom of social media like Instagram means that we can create many accounts for different purposes without needing any verification because of the low barriers of entry (ie. all we need is an email address, account name and password). This flexibility means that there are people out there who choose to stay anonymous online whether that is because they enjoy anonymity where their audience follow because they relate to the content or it could be a completely locked account for personal view/use.

Thank you so much for your comments, your paper sounds incredibly interesting and links well to my paper – I will check it out!

Amy

Hi Amy,

Thank you for answering my question. Feel free to share your thoughts on my paper too. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers,
Kristina

Hi Amy,
Awesome paper! I liked your discussion of frontstage and backstage performances, and how individuals change their behaviours depending on their audience and purpose of sharing content, and that it is a part of self presentation to control impression management. Also the differing perspectives on identity by Zuckerberg of identity being singular, and Poole expressing that identity is multifaceted and prismatic.

I am interested to know if these “tea accounts” were not anonymous, do you think people would still enjoy the ‘gossip’ about individuals? Do these these accounts get away with some of the content they post because of their anonymity?

If you would like to check out my paper, it explores online anonymity, and how it influences users’ disclosure on social platforms 🙂 https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/the-relationship-between-online-anonymity-and-self-disclosure-of-users-on-social-platforms/

Hi Ruby!

I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading my paper. I found the research of my topic incredibly interesting in how different people thought about performance, self identity and presentation.

You bring up an interesting point that also crossed my mind as I was researching ‘Tea’ accounts. I think that if these accounts were not anonymous, the way that they were perceived and their content they produced may be slightly different. Putting a name to these accounts would mean that criticism would not just be directed at these Tea accounts but also if people were to find their personal social media accounts.

The ‘stan’ culture online whether for different people or topics are incredibly loyal and defend quite ferociously online. The comment sections could also shift from discussions about the topics to potential hate towards the owner of the account.

I do agree and think that these accounts get away with content that they post because of their anonymity by facing less criticism and being able to preserve their personal identity whilst still being successful and making substantial money.

Your paper sounds interesting and I would love to read more about online anonymity!

Thanks,
Amy

Yes I definitely agree that there would be shift toward criticism of the people involved in running the accounts, and potentially people engaging in the content. I guess it just depends if these accounts are sharing ‘nice’ gossip or nasty rumours about individuals or whatever it may be. Your mention of these accounts being successful and making money whilst remaining anonymous made me think that they get away with it because they have a reduced accountability for their actions. Also in a way they are exploiting this content/gossip they have about others to whoever is engaged in the content. And possibly, the people engaged in the content are thus exploiting it too?

For sure! I completely agree with you about the lack of accountability for the content they post especially in the exploitation of the gossip/drama market. I think that it does make it hard for the celebrities/high profiled online users that are talked about by these channels since there is probably limited actions that they can take. This relationship would change as time passes so who knows what the dynamic would look like in the future (maintain professionalism or skew towards tabloid content)?

Hi Amy,
This was a really well written piece! I especially enjoyed the points made about presentation of self and use of the work by Erving Goffman, I found the whole front-stage/backstage idea really interesting!

Hi Amy,

This was a really interesting read and I think you brought up quite a few interesting points. You have a very understandable and concise way of writing that makes it enjoyable to read as well as informative.

I like your idea of comparing “finsta’s” and public instagram accounts to Geoffman’s idea of the back stage and front stage. I think that it was a very specific and fitting context for the concept.

You mentioned increased use of facetune and VSCO photo filtering apps. I am curious if you have any feelings about the long term use of use Facetune and Instagram filters as a tool for impression management? Do you think that it would impact the persons perspective of self-identity if they are constantly maintaining a slightly “polished” and “altered” presentation of themselves?

I also really like the idea of incorporating “tea” accounts. Did you hear about the “tea” account that marketed itself as an individual/small team of individuals but in actuality was a corporate / manufactured identity and people were upset as they felt they had engaged in a parasocial relationship with the account? I attempted to find a more reliable source but this article was the best I could find when trying to remember where I heard it from https://www.tubefilter.com/2019/08/20/youtube-on-the-hill-spill-tea-drama-channel-dangelo-wallace/. This could be interesting to consider further implications of identity in regards to drama channels and persona’s online. I found it interesting how people felt more comfortable engaging in this content when they felt it came from a ‘peer’.

Hi Lullaki,
Thank you so much for your kind words!

I do think that the increasing popularity of Facetune and using Instagram filters do impact not only how a person views themselves but also others. For example, celebrities like the Kardashians or famous models who are well known and followed by many young people who view them as inspirations or ‘goal’ gives an unrealistic expectation of female body standards and can alter how one views themselves. The pressures to ‘look’ a certain way to as you said maintaining a “slightly “polished” and “altered” presentation of themselves” definitely is influenced by societal expectations and social media expectations in the presentation of self.

As for the ‘Tea’ accounts, I actually came across a reddit thread where people were speculating who were behind these accounts because of the professionalism, voice overs, animations and extensive research – it seemed impossible for one person to do it all with such a quick turn around. The account ‘Spill’ in particular made a video titles “How the Spill Universe Started” (youtube.com/watch?v=kEOFZFV9mRY) which explains how the channel started as 2 people as a side hustle which has now grown into a larger team and company. I think the information was well received because of the transparency and clarity and viewers still trust the account and enjoy their content.

I’m not completely sure about the other channels, but given the similarities between tea accounts, I wouldn’t be surprised if the others are run by larger groups/companies too.

Thanks,
Amy

Hi Amy,
Sorry it took so long for me to read your paper- I had a massive assignment due yesterday. Your paper was brilliant in the way that it thoroughly explored Erving Goffman’s theories of self-presentation, impression management, and public performances.
I was particularly fascinated by your discussion of user-generated content and peer to peer networking.
You mentioned in your reply to Lullaki’s comment that the “Spill” YouTube channel gained trust back from its audience by claiming to be a passion project that was started by two people. Do you think that they tried to make their corporation seem small and more amateurish because companies are viewed to have profit-seeking agendas? I really enjoyed so many of the arguments that I read in your paper and I hope that next time we meet in person, we can continue to discuss more of these fascinating points.

Kind Regards,
Kiralee.

Hi Lullaki,
Thank you so much for your kind words!

I do think that the increasing popularity of Facetune and using Instagram filters do impact not only how a person views themselves but also others. For example, celebrities like the Kardashians or famous models who are well known and followed by many young people who view them as inspirations or ‘goal’ gives an unrealistic expectation of female body standards and can alter how one views themselves. The pressures to ‘look’ a certain way to as you said maintaining a “slightly “polished” and “altered” presentation of themselves” definitely is influenced by societal expectations and social media expectations in the presentation of self.

As for the ‘Tea’ accounts, I actually came across a reddit thread where people were speculating who were behind these accounts because of the professionalism, voice overs, animations and extensive research – it seemed impossible for one person to do it all with such a quick turn around. The account ‘Spill’ in particular made a video titles “How the Spill Universe Started” (youtube.com/watch?v=kEOFZFV9mRY) which explains how the channel started as 2 people as a side hustle which has now grown into a larger team and company. I think the information was well received because of the transparency and clarity and viewers still trust the account and enjoy their content.

I’m not completely sure about the other channels, but given the similarities between tea accounts, I wouldn’t be surprised if the others are run by larger groups/companies too.

Thanks,
Amy

Hi Amy
Just finished reading your paper which was very interesting. Again as what i discuss on my own paper the topic about online personal information is always going to be circulating around online users.

I liked the term “Tea Account”that you used when describing social users who tend not to disclose their identity due to lower barrier entry to certain social media platforms.This tactics of making signing up or subscription to these social media platform as easy as few clicks on the mouse can only drive more number of users to subscribe/sign up to these channel, and this could also mean as one user with a multiple accounts.
I agree about what you discussed about the so called “online freedom”, where people tend to talk whatever comes in their mind, this online freedom had both ways negative and positive impact, the debate should be what outweigh the other,governments need to close monitoring online social media activists in terms of regulations that need to be enforced to these social media so as these outlets are not used as tool that bring about or promote hate crime,cyber bullying ,racism etc.
Do you think legal naming of social media users would help improve online integrity?

Thanks.

Hi Samwel,
Thank you for your comments. I think that legal naming of social media users to help improve online integrity is a tricky one. On one hand, the transparency and increased authenticity of users could be positive as people are held ‘accountable’ for their words and actions just as Mark Zuckerberg said (which is referenced above). However on the other hand, I do think that online freedom is hard to police/monitor and that making it mandatory to legally naming social media users would be hard to implement since you would have to authenticate users as they makes an account. It’s also challenging because laws regarding the online space and social media are so behind and laws also take a long time to be passed.

Thanks,
Amy

Hi Amy! I enjoy reading your paper. At first, I was a little bit confused by how you discussed about identity on Instagram and all of a sudden you discuss about “tea spills” accounts on YouTube. However, after I read the whole paper, I noticed that both topics are somehow related to each other. I agree with how identities are formed adjusting to different environment, like how people express themselves differently on their main account and their finstas. Do you think that creating finstas affect an individual’s mentality and the process of finding their own identity?

My paper is discussing about how fashion aesthetic influencers on Instagram affecting on female high school students’ identity. I would appreciate it if you have time to read it 🙂
https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/instagram-fashion-aesthetics-construct-female-high-school-identity/

Hi Stephanie,
Sorry for any confusion – it does jump around a bit towards the end. I was trying to explain the types of accounts on Instagram (public, private, anonymous and community connection) and how they allow us to perform differing aspects of our identity. As for the ‘Tea’ accounts, I was trying to explain how their use of pseudonym has allowed them to grow their brand across multiple platforms gaining followers and supporters despite no one knowing their true, personal identity.

I do think that a public instagram account and a finsta does affect an individual mentality and finding their identity. The shift in mentality is subconscious in a way – when they think of content to post on a main account versus a finsta. I think that a finsta account provides an outlet for self expression and can help people form/find their identity since it is a space where they can ‘perform’ differently around the people they are closer to.

Your paper looks interesting and relevant – I will have a read for sure!

Thanks,
Amy

Hi Amy,

Thanks for directing me to your paper. That was an interesting read because I’d never really thought of Instagram as a community building platform. I know it’s technically a SNS, but I’d never really thought that it facilitated any meaningful connections (post photo, get random likes, rinse, repeat). It was nice to read that through hashtags it can actually bring people together, particularly in regards to the lockdown.

The issue of finstas drew my attention. I wonder how that affects personal relationships? Say you have a friend who posts content that is wildly different to their finsta account, and different to how you know they are in real life, would that create a kind of disconnect? Or is there just a kind of mutual understanding that Instagram isn’t real life so everybody just goes along with it?

Thanks!
Simon

Hi Simon,
Thank you for your comments. I think that’s a really interesting question. I follow many finsta accounts by my friends and in some ways I have seen both. Most finsta accounts are who they are in real life, as someone who knows them closely. A few accounts are a little different to who they are in real life but for me I understand that as a space for them to post/do what they want with a ‘trusted’ circle of people who they allow to follow the account. It is a space to post random things that can be deleted in a second which isn’t uncommon – I feel like people expectations of finsta accounts are lower, not polished and random. For example, a friend’s finsta account sometimes posts doodles/paintings that they did despite not actually being interested in art but just shares it as a ‘food for a thought’ kinda vibe. So in a way it is a mutual understanding and as you said “everyone goes along with it”.

Thanks,
Amy

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