Cultural influences on Facebook practices: A comparative study of college students in Namibia and the United States
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Facebook has been adopted in many countries with over 80% of its user-base being outside of the US and Canada. Yet, despite this global dominance, not much is understood of Facebook usage by individuals in non-western cultures. A cross-cultural study was conducted with undergraduate students in the United States and Namibia to examine Facebook use. The study used a mixed method of online surveys and focus groups in both countries. The research examined issues such as motivations for use, friendships, privacy and trust, and life changing events such as relationships, births, deaths, religion and politics. Findings suggest cultural influence on both online and offline practices as well as appropriation and re-contextualization to fit existing offline cultural practices. While we find that participants from the United States are changing their online behavior toward increased self-censorship, more users from Namibia, where family and community structures are important, continue to engage in online behavior that is more open and transparent. Findings also suggest an expressive privacy paradox for United States participants, who are generally less concerned with updating their privacy settings while simultaneously practicing self-censorship.
This is the accepted manuscript of an article from Computers in Human Behavior 49 (2015): 259–271, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.02.065. Posted with permission.