Nobody Needs to Know That: The Limits of Gossip and the Social Functions of Protecting Another Person’s Privacy
Despite the social functions of gossip and the advent of technologies that facilitate spreading and accessing gossip, individuals continue to use and create mechanisms to protect the privacy of others. Interviews with Latinx adolescents, for whom gossip is more harmful than for their White counterparts, describe the use and creation of mechanisms to protect another’s privacy on social media and the rationales for doing so. The rationales include managing others’ impressions of the interviewee and person whose privacy they are protecting and ensuring others will engage in social relations with either of them. Girls and younger interviewees discussed the consequences for the person they were protecting more than for themselves. The findings suggest scope conditions regarding the social functions of gossip and an understated value of mechanisms for protecting privacy, which is safeguarding more than the personal information of individuals, but also the social relations in which they are embedded.
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