Private Social Networks: Three Case Studies

There’s a wide variety of reasons why people might want to start their own social network; privacy is a dominant one. Whatever you’re interested in keeping safe, from your children to data about how you use the internet, smaller social networks can be a very appealing option. Here’s three popular private social networks, to show you just how viable they can be in today’s market, and some of the ways you can utilise plugins like PeepSo. Read more

Why Design Matters

Good design helps a website stand out; even more importantly, it increases engagement and the amount of time a user will spend on your site. How users feel about your brand, how they engage with it, can be largely dictated by how user-friendly and pleasant to look at your website is. Read more

“Digital Kidnapping:” The Rise of a Disturbing Trend

Social media roleplays are an online game in the same family as fanfiction and cosplay; users will create settings and characters, create social media accounts for them, and then play out relationships and events as those characters. Sometimes they play as established characters from television and film; other times, they extend existing fantasy universes. Where new characters have been invented, tradition dictates that they’ll choose a celebrity who fits their vision of what the character looks like, and use public domain photos of that celebrity where images are required or desired. These games have become so popular that players have to apply to take part; game organisers will ask a set of questions, and select the person they think will play best. For the most part, it’s harmless, creative fun; but recently, it’s taken a darker turn as people have started playing using photographs of “real” people, stolen from their social media profiles. It’s not quite catfishing, as players will usually make it clear that they’re role playing (by putting “RP account” in their description), but it can be equally distressing to the people whose photos are being used to represent a character they have no control over. Read more

Social Networking, Privacy and Constructing Identity

Facebook is, for the most part, not a particularly good representation of what people’s lives are really like; their profiles represent how they *want* to be perceived. A happy marriage, a busy social life, an image constructed through careful filtering of content.

But what happens when the image we want to portray to our personal connections doesn’t match up to what we want to send out to our professional ones? That profile picture of you and your partner at a festival covered in mud might make for a great anecdote and paint your life the way you want your friends to see it, but it’s not going to look so great to your customers or a prospective employer. You may be out and proud to your friends and family with your religion, sexuality, veganism etc, but don’t want your co-workers to judge you (or even worse, fire you) based on those attributes. If you work in the justice system, you probably don’t want people you’ve sent to jail knowing your daughter’s name or what suburb you live in.

Image via cambodia4kidsorg on Flickr.

Image via cambodia4kidsorg on Flickr.

People navigate these issues in a variety of ways; some will create two profiles, one for work and one for family and friends. Switching between accounts can be time consuming, and not everyone will get the message about which profile they should add. Some will carefully filter content and adjust their privacy settings to make sure that only certain people are seeing certain content; but this can be restrictive in terms of letting old friends find you, or letting people share content (eg, photos that they’re also in). Others decide it’s just too difficult, and the risks outweigh the benefits of belonging to a large social network.

Smaller, privately owned social networks are a great way forward if you want to keep the different parts of your life separate. Want to share things with just family, and not worry about anyone else finding your profile? Set up your own little corner of the web. Need a space where you can connect with your clients, and have complete control over what they see, and how they interact with you? A private social network keeps your work and personal lives completely separate. And further, when it’s your own social network, you understand what “private” really means. You know exactly who is on the network, and how they can find you; plus, PeepSo’s own privacy policy is crystal clear.