Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 171–185 | Cite as

studiVZ: social networking in the surveillance society

  • Christian FuchsEmail author
Original Paper


This paper presents some results of a case study of the usage of the social networking platform studiVZ by students in Salzburg, Austria. The topic is framed by the context of electronic surveillance. An online survey that was based on questionnaire that consisted of 35 (single and multiple) choice questions, 3 open-ended questions, and 5 interval-scaled questions, was carried out (N = 674). The knowledge that students have in general was assessed with by calculating a surveillance knowledge index, the critical awareness towards surveillance by calculating a surveillance critique index. Knowledge about studiVZ as well as information behaviour on the platform were analyzed and related to the surveillance parameters. The results show that public information and discussion about surveillance and social networking platforms is important for activating critical information behaviour. In the case of studiVZ, a change of the terms of use in 2008 that brought about the possibility of targeted personalized advertising, was the subject of public discussions that influenced students’ knowledge and information behaviour.


Social networking sites Surveillance Privacy Surveillance society Web 2.0 Critical theory studiVZ Consumer surveillance Economic surveillance Targeted advertising Capitalism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unified Theory of Information Research Group, ICT&S Center: Advanced Studies and Research in Information and Communication Technologies & SocietyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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