Referring to Livingstone (2008), how do people use social networking services to construct their identities, and how do social connections form part of those identities?

Livingstone (2008) focuses on the elaborate identity building of the youth through social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and Freindster. Through reviewing both opportunities and threats of social networking for youth identity building, Livingstone (2008) argues that social networking sites have both shaped and undermined the online privacy of the youth. Especially those young people cannot have a sense of privacy, they would like to explore self-display with detailed personal information. Such kinds of online social identities, although contributing to their social identities in real life, would be a potential threat to their individual privacy.


Social networking sites promote the youth’s online identity building with five characteristics. First of all, facilitate access makes social networking sites as the convenient place for the youth to explore identity. From internet access through PC (Personal Computer) to ipad and smart phones such as iphone, young people can use their social networking page in a convenient and easy way, even without time limitation.


Besides, the user friendly framework of social networking sites enables the youth to quickly create standardized self-registration information. Take Facebook user page for example, users can easily learn how to update personal information and how to connect with others on the facebook page, which is designed user-friendly.


Although some social networking sites include the software for instant messaging, the characteristic of non-synchronization enables the youth to control their self-introduction through restructuring or reprocessing the content on their social networking page. Rather than instant message which cannot be modified, facebook users can update and modify the content with more pictures, contents and hyperlinks as well to build up a more detained social identity.


Additionally, the youth can build up their different identities within different groups on their social networking page since they can open different parts of their individual information.


However, because of the reduction of visual or auditory cues during the online communication among the youth, it is possible that there would be inappropriate and embarrassing information on the social networking site to promote face-to-face communication.


The youth’s social connection is the basement of their identity building on the social networking sites. For example, the youth is carefully building the cultural self through showing their likes or dislikes on a specific cultural issue such as movie, music and book. Consequently, they are positioning their identity within the cultural space through social networking sites.



Livingstone, S. (2008). Taking Risky Opportunities in Youthful Content Creation: Teenagers’ Use of Social Networking Sites for Intimacy, Privacy and Self-Expression. New Media & Society, 10(3), 393-411



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