Alberto Hermida e-mail(Login required) , Víctor Hernández-Santaolalla e-mail(Login required)

Main Article Content


Alberto Hermida e-mail(Login required)
Víctor Hernández-Santaolalla e-mail(Login required)


Social networking sites and mobile communication have progressively encouraged the proliferation of certain surveillance and control practices employed by users on a daily basis. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram and devices such as mobile phones have normalised forms of horizontal surveillance, which have begun to be accepted by citizens as the norm. Thus, this paper examines a series of lateral and social surveillance practices that demonstrate a more deliberate and reprehensible behaviour on the part of users by focusing on the conflicts arising from the lack of privacy and control and the deficient management of inappropriate or annoying content in the social networking site environment. To this end, 311 students of the Universidad de Sevilla aged between 18 and 26 were asked to fill in a questionnaire. The survey results show that the majority of the respondents acknowledged having felt being spied on social networking sites, as well as having ended up at loggerheads with acquaintances as a consequence of having shared personal content with others. Lastly, it is apparent that, despite present concerns about the absence of privacy and control and inappropriate or annoying content, users believe that these are risks well worth running for the sake of sharing on social media.


social surveillance, lateral surveillance, social networking sites, mobile communication, privacy, control, content management


Albrechtslund, A. (2008). Online social networking as participatory surveillance. First Monday, 13(3). Retrieved from

Andrejevic, M. (2005). The work of watching one another: Lateral surveillance, risk, and governance. Surveillance & Society, 2(4), 479-497.

Acquisti, A., Brandimarte, L. & Loewenstein, G. (2015). Privacy and human behavior in the age of information. Science, 347(6221), 509-514.

Cascio, J. (2005). The rise of the participatory panopticon. World Changing. Retrieved from

Casilli, A. A. (2015). Four theses on digital mass surveillance and the negotiation of privacy. Paper presented at the 8th Annual Privacy Law Scholar Congress, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, Berkeley, USA. Retrieved from

Foucault, M. (1975). Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison. Paris: Gallimard.

Fox J. & Moreland J. J. (2015). The dark side of social networking sites: An exploration of the relational and psychological stressors associated with Facebook use and affordances. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 168–176.

Fox, J. & Warber, K. M. (2014). Social networking sites in romantic relationships: Attachment, uncertainty, and partner surveillance on Facebook. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(1), 3-7.

Fuchs, C. (2011). New media, web 2.0 and surveillance. Sociology Compass, 5(2), 134-147.

Ganascia, J. G. (2010). The generalized sousveillance society. Social Science Information, 49(3), 489-507.

Goldsmith, A. J. (2010). Policing’s new visibility. British Journal of Criminology, 50(5), 914-934. 10.1093/bjc/azq033

Hermida, A. & Hernández-Santaolalla, V. (2016). Ambigüedades del empoderamiento ciudadano en el contexto tecnopolítico. IC-Revista Científica de Información y Comunicación, 13, 263-280. Retrieved from

Hintz, A., Dencik, L. & Wahl-Jorgensen, K. (2017). Digital citizenship and surveillance society. International Journal of Communication, 11, 731-739.

Krona, M. (2015). Contravigilancia y videoactivismo desde la plaza Tahrir. Sobre las paradojas de la sociedad contravigilante. In F. Sierra & D. Montero (Eds.), Videoactivismo y movimientos sociales. Teoría y praxis de las multitudes conectadas (pp. 211-232). Barcelona: Gedisa.

Lampe, C., Ellison, N. & Steinfield, C. (2006). A Face(book) in the crowd: Social searching vs. social browsing. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW, 167-170. Retrieved from

Mann, S., Nolan, J. & Wellman, B. (2003). Sousveillance: Inventing and using wearable computing devices for data collection in surveillance environments. Surveillance & Society, 1(3), 331-355.

Marshall, T., Benjanyan, K., Di Castro, G. & Lee, R. A. (2013). Attachment styles as predictors of Facebook-related jealousy and surveillance in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 20(1), 1-22.

Marshall, T. C. (2012). Facebook surveillance of former romantic partners: Associations with postbreakup recovery and personal growth. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(10), 521-526.

Marwick, A. (2012). The public domain: Surveillance in everyday life. Surveillance & Society, 9(4), 378-393.

Mattelart, A. (2010). The Globalization of Surveillance. Cambridge (UK): Polity Press.

McGrath, J. E. (2004). Loving Big Brother: Performance, Privacy and Surveillance Space. London (UK): Routledge.

Moon, J. H., Lee, E., Lee, J. A., Choi, T. R. & Sung, Y. (2016). The role of narcissism in self-promotion on Instagram. Personality and Individual Differences 101, 22-25.

Newell, B. C. (2014). Crossing lenses: Policing’s new visibility and the role of “smartphone journalism” as a form of freedom-preserving reciprocal surveillance. Journal of Law, Technology and Policy, 1, 59-104.

Ngcongo, M. (2016). Mobile communication privacy management in romantic relationships: a dialectical approach. Communication, 42(1), 56-74.

Penney, J. & Dadas, C. (2014). (Re)Tweeting in the service of protest: Digital composition and circulation in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. New Media & Society, 16(1), 74-90.

Poell, T. & Borra, E. (2011). Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr as platforms of alternative journalism: The social media account of the 2010 Toronto G20 protests. Journalism, 13(6), 695-713.

Poell, T. & van Dijk, J. (2015). Social media and activist communication. In C. Atton (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Alternative and Community Media (pp. 527-537). London (UK): Routledge.

Ramonet, I. (2015). El imperio de la vigilancia. Madrid: Clave Intelectual.

Rus, H. M. & Tiemensma, J. (2017). “It’s complicated.” A systematic review of associations between social network site use and romantic relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 75, 684-703.

Serrano-Tellería, A. (2018). Users’ management of mobile devices and privacy [Cómo gestionan los usuarios sus dispositivos móviles y su privacidad]. El profesional de la información, 27(4), 822-829.

Sheldon, P. & Bryant, K. (2016). Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 89-97.

Shelton, A. K. & Skalski, P. (2014). Blinded by the light: Illuminating the dark side of social network use through content analysis. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 339-348.

Steinfield C., Ellison N. B. & Lampe C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 434-445.

Tello, L. (2013). Intimacy and “extimacy” in social networks. Ethical boundaries of Facebook [Intimidad y “extimidad” en las redes sociales. Las demarcaciones éticas de Facebook]. Comunicar, 41(XXI), 205-213.

Tokunaga, R. S. (2011). Social networking site or social surveillance site? Understanding the use of interpersonal electronic surveillance in romantic relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 705-713.

Tokunaga, R. S. (2016). Interpersonal surveillance over social network sites: Applying a theory of negative relational maintenance and the investment model. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 33(2), 171-190.

Tong, S. T. (2013). Facebook use during relationship termination: Uncertainty reduction and surveillance. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(11), 788-793.

Trottier, D. (2012). Interpersonal surveillance on social media. Canadian Journal of Communication, 37(2), 319-332.

van Dijck, J. (2014). Datafication, dataism and dataveillance: Big Data between scientific paradigm and ideology. Surveillance & Society, 12(2), 197-208.

Wang, K., Zhou, M. & Zhang, Z. (2017). Can insecurely attached dating couples get compensated on social network sites? The effect of surveillance. Computers in Human Behavior, 73, 303-310.

Zuboff, S. (2015). Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization. Journal of Information Technology, 30, 75-89.

Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. London: Profile Books Ltf.


Search GoogleScholar


Article Details

Author Biography

Alberto Hermida, Universidad de Sevilla. Avda. Américo Vespucio s/n, Isla de la Cartuja, Sevilla