Research group at imec & Vrije Universiteit Brussel


User Empowerment in a Social Media Culture

Project Description

Empowerment and disempowerment in social media

The goal of this project was to critically assess whether users are actually being empowered by their everyday use of social media. The research addressed three main areas of interest in society where user (dis)empowerment is potentially taking place related to social computing: inclusion, literacy and privacy. Based on this fundamental work, EMSOC supported a number of initiatives in Flanders (e.g. on raising privacy awareness).

Privacy, surveillance and commodification

SMIT’s research focused on the privacy theme. We investigated to what extent users reflect on and are aware of how their digital activities are being monitored, processed, analysed and commodified by third parties. To do so, we first analysed corporate profiling techniques and practices and then investigated everyday user practices in relation to privacy. This work resulted in a PhD thesis (by Rob Heyman) and a book: Facebook sees everything.