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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 33: No Fats, No Femmes, No Privacy? (Yoel Roth)


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No Fats, No Femmes, No Privacy?

Yoel Roth

Normatively speaking, many networked platforms are uncharted territory. For the early users of a new social networking service, it’s often unclear what the boundaries of appropriate behavior within a particular context actually are. Explicitly and implicitly, users are frequently put in the position of negotiating complex and broad behavioral questions: How are you expected to treat other people within the context of a given platform? What uses of a service’s features are considered impolite? How should conflicts between users be resolved? These questions are often left unanswered by a service’s developers, and are instead left to users to adjudicate for themselves. In a space of unknown or uncertain norms of conduct, it’s often unclear how users should establish the ground rules for interacting with each other.

This chapter takes up the process of normative negotiation by examining gay men’s use of public blogs to capture, display, and discuss instances of perceived misbehavior on the gay-targeted geosocial networking application Grindr. Specifically, I look at the blog Douchebags of Grindr, which publishes screenshots of Grindr profiles that the site’s authors deem inappropriate, offensive, or otherwise “douchey.” Since the blog’s launch in 2011, the site’s authors have posted hundreds of profile screenshots, all of which display unobscured profile information—including, in many cases, photographs that includes a user’s face. I suggest that Douchebags of Grindr serves two different but complementary functions: On...

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