Information Flow Solipsism in an Exploratory Study of Beliefs About Twitter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is a dearth of research on the public’s beliefs about how social media technologies work. To help address this gap, this article presents the results of an exploratory survey that probes user and non-user beliefs about the techno-cultural and socioeconomic facets of Twitter. While many users are well-versed in producing and consuming information on Twitter, and understand Twitter makes money through advertising, the analysis reveals gaps in users’ understandings of the following: what other Twitter users can see or send, the kinds of user data Twitter collects through third parties, Twitter and Twitter partners’ commodification of user-generated content, and what happens to Tweets in the long term. This article suggests the concept of “information flow solipsism” as a way of describing the resulting subjective belief structure. The article discusses implications information flow solipsism has for users’ abilities to make purposeful and meaningful choices about the use and governance of social media spaces, to evaluate the information contained in these spaces, to understand how content users create is utilized by others in the short and long term, and to conceptualize what information other users experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Twitter
  • information flow
  • information flow solipsism
  • survey methods
  • user knowledge
  • users

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications

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