Study 1. Mobile Facebook Practices: studying mobile networking
Facebook has recently become the leading social networking application, offering a wealth of functionalities and allowing users to share both information and artifacts. Consistently with its wide-spread use, Facebook is also possibly the most studied networking application. Some privacy-related studies focus on location disclosure, while others have looked at motivations and uses. In any case, existing studies tend to focus on Facebook itself, whereas our focus is on mobile social networking in general, and in particular on the privacy issues related to mobile social networking. Facebook only interests in that it is the most popular social networking application which is also mobile, thanks to mobile phones such as iPhone, for which a specific Facebook application is available. From the point of view of mobile privacy, Facebook is a good example of the sort of virtual social environment in which or through which the complexity of mobile privacy issues is likely to manifest itself.
Study 2. Finding Me, Finding You
The second study is a kind of ‘breaching experiment’. We are not aware of any studies of this nature with regard to privacy in mobile computing, but they are common in ethnomethodological research. The idea is to ‘force’ people to make their feelings and reactions obvious by putting them in an uncomfortable situation to observe how they behave in order to make themselves comfortable again. The study entails getting a group of people to use a mobile system that does not offer any privacy protection against the disclosure of their location. Hopefully this will trigger a prey-predator dynamic, which underlies people’s concerns about privacy, allowing us to observe it closely. Our aim is to find out how people really feel about the disclosure of personal information and, if and when they are concerned, how far they are prepared to go in order to avoid being tracked-down. Likewise, looking at what people do (what actions they take or what assumptions they make) with the information they get about others’ location will also help us to understand why and how people feel the need to protect themselves.