Susan P. Wyche and Eric P. S. Baumer (2016). Imagined Facebook: An Exploratory Study of Non-Users’ Perceptions of Social Media in Rural Zambia. New Media & Society.
This article describes an exploratory study of Facebook non-users living in rural Zambia. Drawing on evidence from 37 group interviews with mobile phone owners, we discovered that the majority of our participants were aware of, or ‘imagined’ Facebook, despite never having seen or used the site. Our analysis of how participants perceive Facebook suggests that they are interested in the communication and income-generating possibilities access to the site may provide, but that barriers prevent them from acting on these interests. This study contributes to social media research by making visible the experiences of a population whose non-use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) results from economic, infrastructural, and linguistic sources, as well as from other, hitherto less-explored areas. We discuss the practical significance of these findings, offer future research suggestions, and comment on what our respondents have not yet imagined about Facebook.
Eric P. S. Baumer, Shion Guha, Emily Quan, David Mimno, & Geri Gay. (2015). How Non-use Experiences Influence the Likelihood of Social Media Reversion: Perceived Addiction, Boundary Negotiation, Subjective Mood, and Social Connections. Social Media + Society.
This article examines social media reversion, when a user intentionally ceases using a social media site but then later resumes use of the site. We analyze a convenience sample of survey data from people who volunteered to stay off Facebook for 99 days but, in some cases, returned before that time. We conduct three separate analyses to triangulate on the phenomenon of reversion: simple quantitative predictors of reversion, factor analysis of adjectives used by respondents to describe their experiences of not using Facebook, and statistical topic analysis of free-text responses. Significant factors predicting either increased or decreased likelihood of reversion include, among others, prior use of Facebook, experiences associated with perceived addiction, issues of social boundary negotiation such as privacy and surveillance, use of other social media, and friends’ reactions to non-use. These findings contribute to the growing literature on technology non-use by demonstrating how social media users negotiate, both with each other and with themselves, among types and degrees of use and non-use.
Eric P. S. Baumer, Morgan G. Ames, Jenna Burrell, Jed R. Brubaker, & Paul Dourish. (2015). Why Study Technology Non-use? First Monday, 20(11).
This special issue provides an opportunity to rethink how we approach, study, and conceptualize human relationships with, and through, technology. The authors in this collection take a multiplicity of approaches on diverse topics to develop a rigorous theoretical understanding for non-use, setting crucial groundwork for future research.
Eric P. S. Baumer, Jenna Burrell, Morgan G. Ames, Jed R. Brubaker, & Paul Dourish. (2015). On the Importance and Implications of Studying Technology Non-use. interactions, 22(2), 52–56.
Quit Facebook Day. Paraguayan children indifferent to their OLPC “XO” laptop. Digitally disconnected residents of SubSaharan Africa. Facebook pages of the deceased. Each of these in some way draws attention to technology nonuse. While researchers have explored questions around nonuse for some time [1,2], the dominant discourse in HCI still focuses primarily on technology users. […] So what do deceased Facebook users have in common with children in Paraguay who could care less about their XO laptops? To explore this question, we convened a workshop at ACM’s CHI 2014 conference. […] Here, the workshop organizers reflect on key topics, themes, and questions raised by participants, discussing how they might provide feedback to the broader HCI community. […] this article serves two purposes. First, it provides a sense for the scope and variety of research being conducted related to nonuse, drawing in part on examples from workshop participants. Second, it draws inspiration from discussions that occurred during the workshop to suggest some possible broader implications of, as well as important future directions for, work in this area.
Eric P. S. Baumer. (2015). Usees. in ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). (Seoul). [23% acceptance rate]
HCI has developed a powerful vocabulary for thinking about, and methods for engaging with, users. Similarly, recent work has advanced complementary understanding of technology non-use. However, other spaces of interaction with technology may occur that sit uncomfortably between these two poles. This paper presents two case studies highlighting individuals who neither are clearly users of a system nor are clearly non-users. Based on these cases, the paper develops the concept of usee to help account for such situations that lie between existing analytic categories.
Eric P. S. Baumer, Phil Adams, Vera Khovanskya, Tony Liao, Madeline E. Smith, Victoria Schwanda Sosik, Kaiton Williams. (2013). Limiting, Leaving, and (re)Lapsing: A Survey of Facebook Non-use Practices and Experiences. in ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). (Paris, France). [20% acceptance rate]
Despite the abundance of research on social networking sites, relatively little research has studied those who choose not to use such sites. This paper presents results from a questionnaire of over 400 Internet users, focusing specifically on Facebook and those users who have left the service. Results show the lack of a clear, binary distinction between use and non-use, that various practices enable diverse ways and degrees of engagement with and disengagement from Facebook. Furthermore, qualitative analysis reveals numerous complex and interrelated motivations and justifications, both for leaving and for maintaining some type of connection. These motivations include: privacy, data misuse, productivity, banality, addiction, and external pressures. These results not only contribute to our understanding of online sociality by examining this under-explored area, but they also build on previous work to help advance how we conceptually account for the sociological processes of non-use.
ACM | pdf
A full description of the questionnaire instrument and anonymized response data can be found here.