Creating possible selves: Information disclosure behaviour on social networks

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Introduction. This study investigates the creation of alternative identities or possible selves on social networks by examining self-presentation and self-disclosure as elements of the information disclosure behaviour of Facebook users.Method. An online questionnaire was distributed amongst library and information science students at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and 152 students who have a profile on Facebook particpated in the study. Analysis. The data analysis consisted of two phases. In the first phase quantitative responses received from the survey were compiled in a spreadsheet and analyzed using descriptive and correlative statistics. The second phase involved a thematic analysis of the participants' textual answers which provided insight into the participants' quantitative responses. Results. Findings show that the majority of participants were women who identified themselves using their real name, and who selectively posted personal photographs on their profile. The majority wanted to create a positive or socially acceptable possible self on their profiles and therefore they refrained from disclosing information that is highly personal or embarrassing, did not let their defenses down, and if they did disclose personal information, did so consciously. Conclusions. Findings suggest participants do not create their possible selves solely in relation to their social environment, either to impress their social connections or as a reaction to their feedback. Rather, the creation of possible selves is a reflective process that is motivated by the need for self-enhancement and not only by social or communication needs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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