Media

I am always happy to speak to the media about my research and issues related to privacy, self-presentation, identity, impression management, relationship maintenance and social support, as it is enacted in networked spaces. Please contact me directly here.

Recent media mentions include:

  • Swiping for BFFs: Dating-style apps are breaking into the friendship market. [Washington Post]. From article:Our existing support groups are already dependent on the Internet. From close confidants to old high school pals, hypothetically, friends are always a few clicks away. The University of Maryland’s Jessica Vitak studies the connections between relationships on Facebook and relationships in real life. She’s found that just flipping through photos of a friends’ lives makes us feel like we have a social life.’Even passive communication keeps [friends] feeling closer and keeps relationships from fading away,’ Vitak said.
  • Facebook a Force on Gay Marriage [The Hill]. From article: “Academics who study Facebook say the social network, where users see content posted by people they know and trust, has the power to shape public opinion in unique and powerful ways. ‘You’re much more likely to take a piece of information and apply it and act on it if it’s coming from a friend,’ said Jessica Vitak, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. ‘And that to me is why Facebook has so much potential influence.'”
  • How Real Are Facebook Friendships? [The Atlantic]. From article: “However, having access to a large network of contacts with little to no time investment required has significant social advantages. ‘Does it matter that you can see pictures of a high school acquaintance’s family even though you haven’t spoke to her in 20 years?’ Vitak asked. ‘I would argue that, generally speaking, there are benefits to maintaining those weak ties. Social networks can provide a variety of information that our closest friends and family may lack.’ For example, she said, if you have a question that a Google search won’t easily answer, you can post a status update and get responses within minutes, depending on the breadth of your Facebook network.”
  • Is social media bad for your mental health? [Health365]. From article:According to Professor Jessica Vitak of the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, the relationship between social media and mental health is far too complex to suggest that it has blanket effects across users. ‘We need to look at the context of use and individual factors such as existing mental state to begin to understand whether one’s use of social media will have a more positive or more negative effect,’ she explains.”
  • Facebook makes the heart grow fonder. [Psychology Today]. From article: “Vitak sums this up as follows: ‘You may think Facebook has little value beyond entertainment, but the results of this study suggest that Facebook helps extend the lifespan of many more relationships than would be possible without the site–and maintaining those relationships may benefit you down the line.'”
  •  Social media interview for KSA2 – Saudi Arabian, English-language TV. [video]
  • Friends in high-tech places. [New Scientist] [Lexis-Nexis]. From article: “But the technology does more than that. New research suggests that Facebook can actually improve the quality of these distant or fragile relationships. A study of more than 400 Facebook users by Jessica Vitak at the University of Mary-land, College Park, reveals that the site is especially valuable for friends who live more than a few hours’ drive away. The further away two friends live, the more they engage on the site. For such friends, says Vitak, Facebook may make the difference between a real relationship and the memory of one.”
  • Your online persona. [O:The Oprah Magazine]. From article: “How am I supposed to sum up my essence in 160 characters?, I think—which is odd, since presenting a capsule version of ourselves is something we do every day. “Coworkers know a different you than your friends do,” says Jessica Vitak, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies. Vitak, who studies what she calls impression management strategies, advises thinking of a brief bio or profile as a way to start a conversation.”
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