Curation, Provocation, and Digital Identity: The Risks and Motivations for Online Photo-Sharing is a project that took place between May and September 2011. Building on prior work, the goal of this project was to learn more about why and how people use photo-sharing sites to share potentially risky content. In particular, we were interested in people who post provocative, controversial, or deeply personal content online publicly to sites like Flickr and Facebook.

This work is described, in depth, in a short paper which was published and presented at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas. [ ACM Link, Local copy]

Affinity Diagraming

Dr. Haakon Faste
Dr. Jen Mankoff

This project was influenced by current events. With the rise in popularity of social networks and online photo-sharing sites, people are sharing more about their lives online. There have been a number of news stories reporting about negative consequences that site users have encountered as a result of posting sensitive photos online. The goal of this work was to learn more about users' motivations for posting these types of photos and how they perceive of the risks of doing so.

Experimental Design
There were ten participants in this study, who were recruited using posters around the Carnegie Mellon campus, messages to local, active users and posts to forums on local Flickr groups. The main technique used to collect information from participants was photo-elicitation interviews. Both the researcher and the participant shared a screen that contained the participant's Flickr account. The photos and information on the Flickr page served a starting point for discussions about how users decide what pictures to share online, how they share and distribute them, and who they share them with.

We used affinity diagraming to organize coded pieces of transcript data.

Broadly speaking, our participants were motivated to share photos for the same reasons that have been observed by previous researchers (to define and record their identity, maintain relationships, curate and cultivate a self-representation, and express themselves by sharing their work).

Building on that previous work, our analysis identified three unexpected trends with regard to provocative content: (1) people advocate for the right to be themselves, (2) they advocate for the rights of others, and (3) they seek to protect others.