Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 12, Issue 7, pp 527–542 | Cite as

Designing for privacy and self-presentation in social awareness

  • Mika RaentoEmail author
  • Antti Oulasvirta
Original Article


Social awareness applications are based on the idea of a group sharing real-time context information via personal and ubiquitous terminals. Studies of such applications have shown that users are not only concerned with the preservation privacy through non-disclosure. Instead, disclosure is manipulated for the constant presentation of self to the group in everyday social situations. Basing on 3 years of research with the mobile social awareness system ContextContacts, established findings in social psychology and ubiquitous computing, we propose a number of design principles to support users in this management of privacy and presentation. These principles are to apply even if disclosure is automated, and include support for lightweight permissions, assuming reciprocity, appearing differently to different audiences, providing for feedback on presentation and allowing lying. These principles are applied in interaction design and protocol engineering for the next version of a mobile awareness system called ContextContacts.


Privacy Self-disclosure Self-presentation Social psychology Social awareness User interface design Presence protocols Security 



This work has been funded by the Academy of Finland under the PROACT research programme, and by the Helsinki Graduate School in Computer Science and Engineering. We thank Antti Salovaara, Sakari Tamminen, Marko Turpeinen, Louise Barkhuus and Markus Bylund for commenting on drafts of the paper and Kliment Yanev for comments on the protocol design section.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITTKKFinland

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