(APIs) are considered—it is increasingly challenging to comprehensively characterize what might be
visible to whom, not to mention
where, when, or for how long.
Facebook, the world’s largest
social media platform, has been
under fire for its unanticipated and
unwanted privacy implications as
part of its ever-evolving terms of
service, especially with respect to
the availability of personal data
[ 7]. Zuckerberg’s aforementioned
willingness to make mistakes notwithstanding, developing effective
interfaces for helping users understand and navigate the bewildering
privacy settings for social media
services is an important area to
which HCI may be able to provide
Another dimension of
Zuckerberg’s comment is the explicit acknowledgment of the implicit
cost-benefit analysis that many
users make when facing changes
media services. While 30,000-plus
people pledged to delete their
Facebook accounts on May 31, 2010
(“Quit Facebook Day”) in protest over
the most recent privacy changes,
they represent less than 0.01 percent
of the Facebook user population.
Unfortunately, we will never know
how many actually deleted their
accounts or how many of them later
rejoined the site. We do know that
the number of unique visitors to
Facebook site increased during the
following month [ 8].
All of this is not intended to suggest that privacy is not or should
not be an important consideration
in HCI and social media. However,
it does suggest that we may want to
expand our consideration of relevant
factors, and to incorporate insights
from other fields that have not traditionally played a key role in HCI,
for example, behavioral economics.
The best description I’ve seen of
Health 2.0 was in a slide deck entitled “Patient 2.0” by Regina Holliday,
in which she defined e-patients as
“engaged, empowered, equipped,
and expert” [ 9]. The Health 2.0
movement is broader than social
media, as it involves many stakeholders, such as government and
insurance industry bureaucracies,
who have yet to embrace social
media (to put it charitably).
But the potential for truly participatory medicine—with platforms
promoting interactions among
e-patients and healthcare providers—represents one of the most
exciting application areas of social
media. It’s perhaps best exemplified by PatientsLikeMe.com, which
allows people suffering from an
array of diseases to share information about their symptoms, treatments, and outcomes with other
similarly afflicted patients.
media in new ways. Ideally, the
articles themselves will prove to be
engaging social objects, worthy of
comment and critique, so that this
forum will exemplify social media
in both form and content.
I welcome your input about topics
to explore and/or people to explore
them, as well as feedback on the
ways in which we might better
approach these explorations.
March + April 2011
[ 1] Norman, D. Looking back, looking forward.
interactions 17, 6 (2010).
[ 2] Kim, A.J. Putting the fun in functional.
[ 3] Kim, A. J. Gamification Workshop 2010.
[ 4] Engestrom, J. Why some social network services
work and others don’t – Or, the case for object-centered sociality. April 13, 2005; http://www.
[ 5] Knorr-Cetina, K. Sociality with objects: Social
relations in postsocial knowledge societies, Theory,
Culture and Society 14, 4 (1997), 1-30.
[ 6] Evans, J. I have seen the future, and it looks
a lot like bump (without the bump). TechCrunch.
Nov. 20, 2010; http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/20/
[ 7] McKeon, M. The Evolution of Privacy on
privacy/. Hotz, A. Privacy: Six years of controversy
[infographic]. Mashable. August 25, 2010; http://
Gates, G. Facebook privacy: A bewildering tangle
of options. New York Times; May 12, 2010; http://
[ 8] Siegler, M.G. Remember when we were all
supposed to quit Facebook? TechCrunch. July
14, 2010; http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/14/quit-
[ 9] Holliday, R. Patient 2.0. June 11, 2010; http://regi-
About thE Author
Joe McCarthy is a lecturer at the
University of Washington,
Tacoma‘s Institute of Technology.
His research spans ubiquitous
interaction, and computer-sup-
ported cooperative work.
These categories are not intended
as comprehensive or even clearly
demarcated. Some of the most
interesting areas incorporate two or
more of them, for example, social
games that are based on physical locations and activities (e.g.,
through mobile augmented reality
or game consoles like Wii or Xbox
360 + Kinect), or the ways in which
the social objects in Health 2.0 often
include life-threatening or lifesaving aspects not typically present
in other forms of object-centered
sociality. And, of course, new categories are sure to emerge as social
media continues to evolve.
As this forum unfolds, I hope you
find the articles informative and
provocative. You may not agree with
everything that is written here,
but I hope we will at least entice
you to think about HCI and social
© 2011 ACM 1072-5220/11/0300 $10.00