Young people’s understandings of social media data

Luci Pangrazio, Neil Selwyn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Young people’s engagements with social media now generate large quantities of personal data, with “big social data” becoming an increasingly important “currency” in the digital economy. While using social media platforms is ostensibly “free”, users nevertheless “pay” for these services through their personal data—enabling advertisers, content developers, and other third parties to profile, predict, and position individuals. Such developments have prompted calls for social media users to adopt more informed and critical stances toward how and why their data are being used— that is, to build “critical data literacies”. This article reports on research that explores young social media users’ understandings of their personal data and its attendant issues. Drawing on research with groups of young people (aged 13–17 years), the article investigates the consequences of making third party (re)uses of personal data openly available for social media users to interpret and make critical sense of. The findings provide valuable insights into young people’s understandings of the technical, social, and cultural issues that underpin their ability to engage with, and make sense of, social media data. The article concludes by considering how research into critical data literacies might connect in more meaningful and effective ways with everyday lived experiences of social media use.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYoung People and Social Media
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Children’s Digital Culture
EditorsSteve Gennaro, Blair Miller
Place of PublicationWilmington DE USA
PublisherVernon Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781648893209, 9781648891724
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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