Intimacies of Digital Identity

  • Cristina Miguel


The main objective of this chapter is to conduct a cross-platform analysis and identify disclosure patterns in three different social media platforms: Badoo, CouchSurfing, and Facebook. Drawing on Hogan’s (2010) exhibitionistic approach, in this chapter, user profiles are analysed as cultural artefacts, which are tools for self-(re)presentation and impression management. The observation of user profiles is combined with the interviews with participants where they explained which topics they disclosed online and considered intimate. After a definition of the concepts of self-disclosure and self-(re)presentation, the topics that participants frequently identified as intimate when interacting through social media (relationship status, sexual orientation, political and religious beliefs, sex, alcohol intake, and feelings) are discussed in depth.


Badoo CouchSurfing Facebook Intimate information Online identity Social media 


  1. Altman, I., & Taylor, D. A. (1973). Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. Oxford: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, R. L., & Burleson, J. A. (1980). The effects of timing of self-disclosure on attraction and reciprocity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 38(1), 120–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bargh, J. A., & McKenna, K. Y. (2004). The Internet and social life. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(February), 573–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baym, N. K. (2010). Personal connection in the digital age. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  5. Berger, J. (1982). Appearances. In J. Berger & J. Mohr (Eds.), Another way of telling (pp. 81–129). New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  6. Brake, D. R. (2014). Sharing our lives online: Risks and exposure in social media. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen, J. E. (2012). Configuring the networked self: Law, code, and the play of everyday practice. New Have: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Ellison, N. B., Vitak, J., Steinfield, C., Gray, R., & Lampe, C. (2011). Negotiation privacy concerns and social capital needs in a social media environment. In S. Trepte & L. Reinecke (Eds.), Privacy online: Perspective on privacy and self-disclosure on the social web (pp. 19–32). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goffman, E. (1969). The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  10. Hjorth, L., Wilken, R., & Gu, K. (2012). Ambient intimacy: A case study of the iPhone, presence, and location based social media in Shanghai, China. In L. Hjorth, J. Burgess, & I. Richardson (Eds.), Studying mobile media: Cultural technologies, mobile communication, and the iPhone (pp. 43–62). New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hogan, B. (2010). The presentation of self in the age of social media: Distinguishing performances and exhibitions online. Bulletin of Science Technology Society, 30(6), 377–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Illouz, E. (2007). Cold intimacies: The making of emotional capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  13. Jiang, C. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Absence makes the communication grow fonder: Geographic separation, interpersonal media, and intimacy in dating relationships. The Journal of Communication, 63(3), 556–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Joinson, A. N., Houghton, D. J., Vasalou, A., & Marder, B. L. (2011). Digital crowding: Privacy, self-disclosure, and technology. In S. Trepte & L. Reinecke (Eds.), Privacy online: Perspectives on privacy and self-disclosure in the social web (pp. 33–45). Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jordán-Conde, Z., Mennecke, B., & Townsend, A. (2013). Late adolescent identity definition and intimate disclosure on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 356–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Köhl, M. M., & Götzenbrucker, G. (2014). Networked technologies as emotional resources? Exploring emerging emotional cultures on social network sites such as Facebook and Hi5: A trans-cultural study. Media, Culture & Society, 36(4), 508–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lambert, A. (2013). Intimacy and friendship on Facebook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lara, T. (2007). El currículum posmoderno en la cultura. [Online]. Available from: Accessed 14 May 2014.
  19. Lasén, A. (2013). Digital inscriptions and loss of embarrassment: Some thoughts about the technological mediations of affectivity. Intervalla, 1, 85–100.Google Scholar
  20. Lomborg, S. (2013). Social media, social genres: Making sense of the ordinary. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Marwick, A. E., & boyd, d. (2011). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately. Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1), 114–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mendelson, A., & Papacharissi, Z. (2010). Look at us: Collective narcissism in college student Facebook photo galleries. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A networked self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites (pp. 251–273). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Miguel, C. (2016). Visual intimacy on social media: From selfies to the co-construction of intimacies through shared pictures. Social Media + Society, 2(2). Scholar
  24. Miller, D. (2011). Tales from Facebook. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  25. Nguyen, M., Bin, Y. S., & Campbell, A. (2012). Comparing online and offline self-disclosure: A systematic review. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15(2), 103–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nissenbaum, H. (2009). Privacy in context: Technology, policy, and the integrity of social life. Stanford: University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Park, N., Jin, B., & Jin, S. A. (2011). Effects of self-disclosure on relational intimacy in Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(5), 1974–1983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pedroni, M., Pasquali, F., & Carlo, S. (2014). My friends are my audience: Mass-mediation of personal content and relations in Facebook. Observatorio (OBS*), 8(3), 97–113.Google Scholar
  29. Qiu, L., Lin, H., Leung, A. K., & Tov, W. (2012). Putting their best foot forward: Emotional disclosure on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 15(10), 569–572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Reichelt, L. (2007, March 1). ‘Ambient intimacy’. Disambiguity. Accessed 10 Dec 2016.
  31. Reis, H. T., & Shaver, P. (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. In S. Duck (Ed.), Handbook of personal relationships: Theory, research, and interventions (pp. 367–389). Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  32. Sprecher, S., Treger, S., Wondra, J. D., Hilaire, N., & Wallpe, K. (2013). Taking turns: Reciprocal self-disclosure promotes liking in initial interactions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49(5), 860–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Thompson, C. (2008, September 15). Brave new world of digital intimacy. New York Times Magazine. [Online]. Available from: Accessed 5 June 2012.
  34. Thumim, N. (2012). Self representation and digital culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Utz, S. (2015). The function of self-disclosure on social network sites: Not only intimate, but also positive and entertaining self-disclosures increase the feeling of connection. Computers in Human Behavior, 45(April), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1), 3–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Walther, J. B., & Parks, M. R. (2002). Cues filtered out, cues filtered in: Computer-mediated communications and relationship. In M. Knapp & J. Daly (Eds.), Handbook of interpersonal communication (pp. 529–563). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Walther, J. B., Van Der Heide, B., Kim, S., Westerman, D., & Tong, S. T. (2008). The role of friends’ behavior on evaluations of individuals’ Facebook profiles: Are we known by the company we keep? Human Communication Research, 34(1), 28–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Miguel
    • 1
  1. 1.Business SchoolLeeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

Personalised recommendations