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Social media technology rather than anonymity is the problem

January 21, 2016

Problems of anti-social behaviour, privacy, and free speech on social media are not caused by anonymity but instead result from the way technology changes our presence.

That's the startling conclusion of a new book by Dr Vincent Miller, a sociologist at the University of Kent and an expert on the information society and developing media.

In contending that the cause of issues such as online anti-social behaviour is the design/software of social media itself, Dr Miller suggests that social media architecture needs to be managed and planned in the same way as physical architecture.

In the book, entitled The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Speech in Mediated Social Life, Dr Miller examines the relationship between the freedom provided by the contemporary online world and the control, surveillance and censorship that operate in this environment.

The book questions the origins and sincerity of moral panics about use - and abuse - in the contemporary online environment and offers an analysis of ethics, privacy and free speech in this setting.

Investigating the ethical challenges that confront our increasingly digital culture, Dr Miller suggests a number of revisions to our ethical, legal and technological regimes to meet these challenges.

These including changing what he describes as 'dehumanising' social media software, expanding the notion of our 'selves' or 'bodies' to include our digital traces, and the re-introduction of 'time' into social media through the creation of 'expiry dates' on social media communications.

Dr Miller is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Cultural Studies within the University's School of Social Research, Sociology and Social Policy. The Crisis of Presence in Contemporary Culture: Ethics, Privacy and Speech in Mediated Social Life, is published by Sage.
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For further information or interview requests, contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.
Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879
Email: M.J.Herrema@kent.ac.uk

News releases can also be found at http://www.kent.ac.uk/news

University of Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/UniKent

Note to editors

Established in 1965, the University of Kent - the UK's European university - now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked: third for overall student satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey; 16th in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (http://www.kent.ac.uk/about/partnerships/eastern-arc.html).

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

University of Kent

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