Invisible Audience

Who do you think your invisible audience (term is explained) consists of?

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Respondent 1

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J: That almost leads into another… people have that invisible audience right, because they’re not sure who’s looking at their profile, but everybody has a conception of who their invisible audience is. 

I: And there are controls for Facebook, right?

J: Yes, more so now, you can custom-tailor who that audience is, but previously it was you know, just could be anybody from your school.  Any one of your six hundred friends or whatever it is.  So who would you—oh we’re outa of time—if you were to guestimate, who would your invisible audience typically be?

I: Well, I have not utilized those new controls, so [laugh], so umb…

J: So you haven’t forced it down, you really do have to guess

I: Ah well, and if I get tagged in a compromising picture I’m gonna untag it.  So umb, and if there’s something obnoxious on my wall I’m not gonna keep it there either, I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t like to look at it either.  I mean I try to keep an image of myself that I would like to be portrayed as, so I’m not gonna have stuff on there that’s gonna get me in trouble.

J: So it may not matter that much as to who looks at it and who doesn’t?

I: Yeah, cause I guess, yeah it can’t matter because everyone can look at it on my network I guess,

Respondent 3

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J: Okay, so say somebody sees you in Jamaica, but you don’t necessarily know who they are, unless they tell you.  In general you don’t know who’s looking at your profile or tracking your actions, so in a sense it’s an invisible audience.  If you were to guess who your invisible audience is, who would you think they are?

I:People I haven’t talked to in a long time.  It’s sometimes fun, because they might write on my wall and say like ‘heys it’s been a while’ and that might be fun.

J: Would you want certain people looking at your profile instead of others?

I:I don’t mind people looking at my profile unless it’s someone I don’t know.  It’s not—in my case—my friend who went to Jamaica with me, had pictures of herself in her bikini and these random guys were sending her messages everyday like ‘hey you’re hot do you want to come out with me sometime?’ kinda pickup lines.

Respondent 4

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There’s this notion of the invisible audience, any given time somebody could be looking at your profile, you don’t know who though, depending on your privacy settings, unless they leave a message, and even they do you don’t know what they were looking at or for how long. So if you were going to guess who your invisible audience is, who would you guess they are?

I:Honestly, I don’t think that that many people look at my profile because like I don’t have anything not enough interesting, but probably what I’ve shown on my profile doesn’t make me worth, not not not worth I guess, I don’t know not in any like fake relationships, I don’t have a bunch of applications, and there’s nothing I guess scandalous or…

J: so those are the types of things that would make you interesting?

I:not necessarily interesting but just if somebody was surfing through their friends and I was on the list and somebody else was in a new relationship or just added a bunch of pictures I don’t add many pictures ever so I don’t know there just isn’t a lot of activity so if they’ve seen it in the like the last 6 months, its probably the same that it was 6 months ago.

J: so minimal changes. Ok, so you don’t think you have a very large audience, so you wouldn’t expect then that strangers, I shouldn’t say strangers, people that you don’t know that well would be looking at your profile.

I:well my profile isn’t public, it’s just my friends and I like I said I wouldn’t think that people I don’t know very well would be looking at it just because if they’ve ever seen it before it’s probably the same it just isn’t very interesting something that people would spend you cant really look at a profile with 8 pictures on it and minimal information about me for very long, without getting bored and moving on to someone else.

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Respondent 6

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J: So what do you mean when you say public?

I:Yeah, public as in everyone can see it.

J:Who is everyone, exactly?

I:Everyone in the community, I guess, or the group of friends.  Or I guess it could be everyone, depending on your settings, right?

J: So there’s this notion of the invisible audience.  You could put something out there on Facebook, and there’s a whole bunch of people who could see it, but you don’t know who they are, so they’re sort of invisible unless they make a comment or say that they saw something.  So if you were to guess who your typical invisible audience is, who would that be?

I:I never thought about it.  I wouldn’t really think someone would look at me on Facebook, what reason would they have, you know? I’m just some guy…

J:I don’t know, I think you’d know better than me.

I:[laughs] Maybe the only invisible audience I don’t know would be people who see me through groups that aren’t necessarily personal groups, people who are bored and are looking at random people.

J:Well it could be people you know, too.  You might have a sibling for instance, and you know that they’re looking at your profile too, but you don’t know when or how long, and so you’re not really sure, they’re still part of the invisible audience.

I:I imagine that people who maybe I’m friends with on Facebook but I’m not that great friends with, or people who go on Facebook a lot, just to surf Facebook.  I could see them looking at my page and wall and everything.  The classic example of wall is your birthday, and thirty people write happy birthday all at the same time. It kinda makes you feel good.

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Respondent 7

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J: So on that note, you could look at that information and know things without them knowing you know.  A lot of the time people can look at your profile but you may not know who they are.  They might leave a message, but you don’t know what they were looking at or how long they were there.  So you always have some sort of an invisible audience.  If you were to guess who your invisible audience is, who would they be?

I:Probably like just like people—obviously my close friends.  We go on each other’s page all of the time.  And then friends I’m not really close to, but people I talk to on a, you know, a decent basis, and then probably just like people I’d probably never think about, just like distant people who are like my friends and I might talk to once in a while, but people who I don’t associate with everyday but they happen to be on Facebook.

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Respondent 9

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J: Earlier you mentioned you adjusted the privacy settings.  So you’ve got friends who can see your profile, you can roughly get an idea of who can see your profile.  But you don’t know exactly which of them are looking unless they leave a note or tell you or some clue to let you know they were there, and even if you do you might not know what they were looking at or how long they were there. If you were to guess who your invisible audience is, who would you think they are?

I:No idea.  Even if somebody isn’t on my friends list they could hack.

J:Or use a friend’s profile that has access.  SO you have no idea at all?  Does that regulate what you put up there?

I:A little bit. I don’t put too much information on Facebook.  Like I was saying earlier, I believe in face to face contact. I’ve thought about it before.  Sometimes I do.  You’re just curious to know who’s looking at you on your profile.  I don’t really want to know.  I do and I don’t.  I don’t really care.

J:What do you mean?

I:I mean, I think everyone wants to know who’s looking at their profile.  Just the curiosity thing, but sometimes it might be creepy. 

J: So it might creep you out if you did know.

I:Maybe, it might be creepy who’s looking at it, or maybe how many people?

J:Do you think you’d feel a lot more popular or less popular?

I:Not really that, just the whole creepy level.  Yeah…