The privacy implications of online bonding, bridging and boundary crossing: An experimental study using emoticons in a social network map


This paper describes a study of privacy behaviour in situations of strong (bonding), weak and latent (bridging) and “boundary-crossing” relationships in online social network sites (SNS). An experimental study was conducted utilising screen capture, diaries, and a final interview. An innovative aspect of the experiment was the use of emoticons in a social network visualisation tool to represent emotional status. The contribution of the study is two-fold. We extend previous research with a more nuanced understanding of privacy concerns and behaviours in SNS in the context of different social ties. We also demonstrate an innovative research design using a social network visualization tool, and show the value of SNS visualization for researchers and social network users.

Bibliographic citation

Guan, X., & Tate, M. (2013). The privacy implications of online bonding, bridging and boundary crossing: An experimental study using emoticons in a social network map. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 7(2), Article 4. doi:


Privacy; social capital; social network sites; visualization; experiment

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