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Crystal Abidin1, Paul Byron2, Stefanie Duguay3, David Myles4, Shuaishuai Wang5
1Curtin University, Australia; 2University of Technology Sydney, Australia; 3Concordia University, Canada; 4McGill University, Canada; 5Xi'an Jiaotong - Liverpool University, China
This roundtable gathers scholars to discuss how platforms shape intimate practices–that is, how intimacy is platformized–and how individuals exercise agency in generating intimacy through platforms. It considers a range of intimacies, including friendship, sexual and romantic expression, and intimate disclosure in microcelebrity practices. It also involves scholarship that addresses major platforms, including US-based platforms like Twitter and Instagram, but pays particular attention to platforms and user populations beyond the USA. Additionally, we consider a variety of apps–especially those perceived to be, or marketed as, hookup apps–and digital elsewheres, such as Zoom, which function as alternatives or extensions of platformed infrastructures. The roundtable will draw on research into cross-platform expressions of intimacy and will attend to how platforms become inhospitable to intimacy, such as through governance frameworks that deplatform sexuality and intimate expression, or that limit anonymous forms of intimacy. Our research mobilizes diverse methods, from interviews to analysis of social media content and modes of platform interrogation, to examine how users’ negotiation of platformed intimacy challenges and expands scholarly understandings of privacy, networked publics, and other established concepts. In attending to the dynamics of platform ecosystems, our work also takes up concepts such as platform imperialism (Jin, 2015) and data colonialism (Couldry & Mejias, 2018) to consider how technology monopolies dominate global data flows and curtail users’ platform choices. We adopt these lenses to consider how intimate data are funneled into platform capitalism and how users can exercise resistance through sexual and intimate expression that subverts platforms’ business models and intended uses. Through a discussion of work involving a range of geographies and positionalities, the roundtable will further consider how such perspectives can broaden our approaches to research and engage attendees in co-creating new lines of inquiry.