Chapter 14: Security and insecurity online: Perspectives from girls and young women – Sarah Heath


Heath uses the eGirls data to examine how girls use privacy settings and other technical tools to protect their online security. From the eGirls participants’ perspective, the technical design of the sites they inhabit create particular security risks because they make it difficult for them to control the flow of the information they post there. They were especially concerned by design features that identify them when they wish to be anonymous, or make it hard to maintain a boundary between their various audiences. They were also uncomfortable with the commercial collection and use of their information. However, they actively engaged with their own security, and used a number of strategies to protect it. When faced with interactions that were deemed inappropriate, “creepy,” strange or unfamiliar, they would block or delete users, carefully manage the types of information they revealed, or disengage from particular conversations. In doing so, they demonstrated a strong resiliency with respect to managing their own security.