The purpose of this research is to explore current use of social networking sites (SNSs) amongst the student population of Aberystwyth University, with particular respect to information-sharing and privacy behaviours, and to assess the potential impact of SNSs checks by employers on future use of these sites. The literature review noted the popularity of SNSs amongst university students, particularly for social interactions; yet, also noted were numerous privacy concerns faced by SNS users, and the prevalence of employer surveillance of SNS sites, something which may have significant effects on how these sites are used in the future.
A mixed-methods research design incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches was employed to investigate the research question. An online questionnaire was used to gather both quantitative and qualitative data from Aberystwyth University students (undergraduate and postgraduate), after which a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine postgraduate students to gain a more comprehensive insight into the topic under investigation.
Results demonstrated that social use of SNSs is highly predominant, with participants desiring to use it for this purpose in the future. Participants were concerned with maintaining privacy online, and were careful with regards to posting and protecting information on SNSs; however, protective measures were imperfect due to human and system errors. Most respondents were aware of SNS surveillance, with many noting that this would have an impact on their future use. Reactions to this practise were mixed; while many questioned the usefulness of such information, others were satisfied to have their profiles checked as long as they had control over what employers could see. Certain practises were considered overly invasive, and garnered negative reactions. Continuation of such practises would possible have a negative impact on how these sites are used, unless users are provided with some means of protecting their online profiles
|Date of Award
|Anoush Simon (Supervisor)