The purpose of this paper is to identify the risks faced by users of online social networking services (SNSs) in the UK and to develop a typology of risk that can be used to assess regulatory effectiveness.
An initial investigation of the literature revealed no detailed taxonomies of risk in this area. Existing taxonomies were reviewed and merged with categories identified in a pilot survey and expanded in purposive sample survey directed at the library and information services (LIS) community in the UK.
Analysis of the relationships between different risk categories yielded a grouping of risks by their consequences. This aligns with one of the objectives of regulation, which is to mitigate risks.
This research offers a tool for evaluation of different modes of regulation of social media.
Awareness of the risks associated with use of online SNSs and wider social media contributes to the work of LIS professionals in their roles as: educators; intermediaries; and users of social media. An understanding of risk also informs the work of policy makers and legislators responsible for regulating access to personal data.
A risk-based view of regulation of personal data on social media has not been attempted in such a comprehensive way before.
The authors acknowledge with thanks the contribution of survey participants and interview respondents who give their time generously. They also acknowledge the comments and feedback provided by colleagues at City University London and by members of the wider research community.
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