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Private and Public on Social Network Sites

Differences and Similarities between Germany and China in a Globalized World


Jingwei Wu

This book explores the boundary between «the private» and «the public» on Social Network Sites based on the sociability framework. The author analyses the roles of social norms and influences, benefits, and risks/costs, on the behaviors of SNSs users through models based on Social Exchange Theory, Social Penetration Theory and Communication Privacy Management Theory. She reviews different notions of «the private» and «the public» and selects the sociability framework to investigate the distinction between private and public. The author uses this theoretical framework to conduct online surveys and interviews with selected SNSs users in Germany and China and concludes that the clear boundary of «the private» and «the public» on SNSs is a result of acts of disclosure and/or withdrawal of personal information and political opinions. Globalization and mediatization contribute to similarities among different countries but do not erase the differences in their respective boundaries.

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A. Questionnaire

Thank you for joining our survey!

This survey queries the ways in which you share personal information and political opinions on social network sites (SNSs), and the audience to whom this information is visible. If you are a student between 18–35 years old and you use Facebook, I would like to invite you to fill out the questionnaire. Your participation in the study is very vital, so please take 10 minutes to complete the survey.

Your information will confidential and anonymous for the purpose of this academic research.

Thank you very much!

Jingwei Wu, Institut für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft, FU Berlin


Q1. Which one of the following SNSs do you use most?

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