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Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 705713

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Social networking site or social surveillance site? Understanding the use of interpersonal electronic surveillance in romantic relationships
Robert S. Tokunaga
Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Communication Building #25 Room 211, P.O. Box 210025, Tucson, AZ 85721-0025, USA

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Social network sites (SNSs) are commonly used to maintain existing relationships and form connections with new contacts. Recently, concerns of have been expressed over the way these Web-based technologies are used. Estimates suggest that people are increasingly using SNSs for engaging in the surveillance of others. Given the relatively high rates of prevalence, it can be argued that SNSs have been reinvented into a tool for interpersonal surveillance along with their social networking capabilities. This article expands on the concept of interpersonal electronic surveillance and applies it in the specic context of romantic partners use of SNSs. The relationships between surveillance over SNSs and demographic, relational, and Internet use and efcacy variables are studied. The ndings reveal that interpersonal surveillance over SNSs is inuenced by age, the time individuals spend on their partners proles, the integration of SNSs into daily routines, and Internet self-efcacy. 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Available online 4 November 2010 Keywords: Social network sites Surveillance Romantic relationships Internet Measurement development

1. Introduction The metaphor of the panopticon, developed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham and later explicated by Foucault (1977), is often applied to the Internet culture (Katz & Rice, 2002; Lyon, 1993; Spears & Lea, 1994). The panopticon is a theoretical prison structure where prisoners can be observed from a central location at all times without their knowledge. In the information panopticon, Zuboff (1988) proposes that observers who engage in the surveillance of others are able to be observed as well. Internet users are unknowingly subjected to the surveillance of Big and Little Brother each day (DUrso, 2006). Big Brother is a concept referring to governmental agencies who observe not only patterns of Internet use but also the content of online communication (Palen & Dourish, 2003). Little Brother is a comparatively newer phenomenon in which organizations and individual Internet users engage in surveillance to gain awareness about the Internet-related behaviors of others. There are several characteristics of Internet-supported technologies that encourage surveillance behaviors. The potential recordability and archival of Internet messages, for instance, can be used to gain information about the online and ofine behaviors of others. Additionally, the public or semi-public nature of messages exchanged through open forums on the World Wide Web, including bulletin boards, chat rooms, and websites (e.g., computer-mediated support groups), may make certain Internet-based technologies
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enticing outlets to exercise surveillance. Many of these characteristics, in concert with the potential for anonymity available over the Internet, allow individuals to lurk in an environment that reduces the threat of being discovered. The discovery of personal information published on the Internet may not have serious negative social implications because the link between personal information and identity is often destroyed, in part, by exercising the use of anonymous screen names (Rains & Scott, 2007; Scott, 2004) and falsied information (Donath, 1999; Turkle, 1995). People may have access to personal information online but often do not know with whom the information is associated. Social network sites (SNSs) bridge the gap between identity and personal information typically generated by the anonymous characteristics of Internet-based communication. SNSs, which are Internet-based services that allow people to create and maintain personal proles on which they can place personal information, negotiate friendships with others in a bounded system, and view friends proles (boyd & Ellison, 2008), are ideal forums for those who wish to exercise surveillance over others. Privacy settings on SNSs can be controlled to maintain public or semi-public proles (boyd & Ellison, 2008). Public proles are able to be seen by any registered users while semi-public proles can only be viewed by proximal contacts. Users are able to create detailed proles commonly containing their name, age, birthday, hometown, sexual preference, and contact information (Tong, Van Der Heide, Langwell, & Walther, 2008). Additional information placed on proles may include previous academic or work experience, a list of groups of which one is a member, and extensive photo galleries. Despite the wealth of personal information that


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can be accessed by others on these websites, a content analysis of MySpace proles nds most users do not enact strict privacy settings (Jones, Millermaier, Goya-Martinez, & Schuler, 2008). Similar patterns of disregard are found on Facebook, where an overwhelming number of students share sensitive information through their public proles with minimal concern for privacy (Stutzman, 2006; Tufekci, 2008). The popularity of SNSs and the way they are used promote greater access to personal information (boyd & Ellison, 2008) and bring currency to concerns about interpersonal surveillance and Internet privacy. SNSs are founded on the premise of surveillance where individuals not only are allowed but expected to track other members of their community (Lampe, Ellison, & Steineld, 2006, p. 167). In a study of Facebook users, Joinson (2008) nds that, after keeping in touch with friends, social surveillance is the second most commonly reported motive coming to mind when generating thoughts about SNSs. Students are considerably more likely to use these websites for social surveillance than developing new contacts and network connections (Lampe et al., 2006). Recent evidence suggests that interpersonal surveillance over SNSs is a fairly common practice. Over 60% of college students use Facebook proles to check up on their signicant others, see what others are doing on the Internet, and check people out (Stern & Taylor, 2007). Although SNSs continue to provide forums for individuals to develop and maintain connections with others, these Web-based services have slowly evolved into a conduit for interpersonal electronic surveillance. Nevertheless, there is fairly little empirical research beyond simple prevalence estimates despite the growing use of SNSs for surveillance functions. Furthermore, previous research on interpersonal electronic surveillance has not explicated this phenomenon, and there is an absence of a reliable and valid measure for operationalizing this construct. To this end, the objectives of this investigation are to expand on the concept of interpersonal electronic surveillance and provide a tenable context in which this form of surveillance may take place.

operationalized as a continuous construct where the surveillance strategies occur in various magnitudes. Individuals employ surveillance strategies through communication technologies for a number of reasons. Surveillance is used as a way to monitor the world around us (Shoemaker, 1996, p. 32) and has both cultural and biological origins. People rely on surveillance to examine their immediate environment for deviant behaviors, people, or events having the potential to cause them harm. Partners involved in romantic relationships exercise surveillance as a relational maintenance strategy in response to threats of extra-dyadic rivals (Guerrero & A, 1998). Surveillance can also be used in early or intermediate stages of a new relationship to obtain more information about the other. Marx (2004) acknowledges that contemporary surveillance involves the collection of data or information from individuals and moves away from the traditional view of surveillance as the close observation of suspected others.

3. Interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites The accessibility to personal information provided by Internetsupported technologies has ushered in new concerns about privacy for Internet users. Web blogs, for instance, allow people to articulate their thoughts and express personal information to a mass audience with minimal effort (Huffaker, 2004). Information published on public or semi-public proles is made available to large audiences of individuals who have strong, weak, or no afliation to a prole owner on SNSs (boyd & Ellison, 2008). By using Webbased services such as SNSs, there is a presumption that people must submit to a certain level of surveillance from others (Albrechtslund, 2008). The amount of people using SNSs continues to grow each year. In June, 2008, the number of unique visitors across the world expanded to 580 million, a 25% increase in comparison to the preceding year (comScore, 2008). The use of SNSs is linked to numerous psychosocial benets, including high self-esteem and healthy internal well-being (Valkenburg, Peter, & Shouten, 2006), life satisfaction, trust, and civic engagement (Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009), and enriching interpersonal experiences (boyd & Ellison, 2008). Individuals commonly use SNSs as a way to maintain connections during turning points in their lives (Ellison, Steineld, & Lampe, 2007; Lampe et al., 2006). College students use these websites to stay in touch with high school friends and maintain contact with long distance romantic partners. Participating on SNSs is an important way to remain a central part of romantic partners daily lives. Individuals can casually examine their romantic partners proles to gather information, employing surreptitious forms of surveillance. A wealth of information is available on SNSs through status updates (i.e., information regularly updated on ones current condition), news feeds (i.e., automatically generated updates about ones recent online activity), and messages exchanged over message boards. These message boards, commonly referred to as the Wall, Comments, or Testimonials on various SNSs, are sections dedicated to messages authored by friends (boyd, 2008; Walther, Van Der Heide, Kim, Westerman, & Tong, 2008). The benets of using SNSs are considered alongside emerging reports of relational problems that occur with their use (Muise, Christodes, & Desmarais, 2009; Phillips, 2009). For instance, Facebook surveillance between couples is related to partner jealousy (Phillips, 2009). Phillips explains that IES is often precipitated by interpersonal jealousy arising from third parties. The interpersonal jealousy provokes people to employ IES strategies through their partners proles. The time romantic couples spend on Facebook, presumably to exercise surveillance over their partners proles,

2. What is interpersonal electronic surveillance? Interpersonal electronic surveillance (IES) is characterized as surreptitious strategies individuals use over communication technologies to gain awareness of another users ofine and/or online behaviors. IES is characterized as a mindful and goal-oriented behavior in which contacts of all sorts, including close friends, romantic partners, business associates, or family members, can be placed under surveillance. Internet-based content such as message exchanges, newly-formed contacts or relationships, information about future or attended social gatherings, and personal status updates are sought by people who engage in IES. The personal information is accessed using proles on SNSs, bulletin boards, personal webpages, online diaries, keystroke loggers, and other electronic devices. IES is a general term related to concepts such as horizontal surveillance (Albrechtslund, 2008), peer-to-peer monitoring (Andrejevic, 2005), social surveillance (Marx, 2004; Steineld, Ellison, & Lampe, 2008), social searching (Lampe et al., 2006), and other forms of electronic monitoring and surveillance that occur on an individual level. The electronic monitoring or surveillance used by organizations or governmental agencies is conceptually similar to IES in that both seek to gain information about others through electronic devices. Apart from this similarity, IES diverges from these vertical forms of electronic surveillance based on the specic objectives for collecting information, the asymmetrical surveillance between the observer and the observed, the hierarchical relationship disparities, and the inuence of the gathered information (i.e., the potential for regulatory oversight). IES is

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is related to interpersonal jealousy and distrust (Muise et al., 2009). Surveillance occurring over SNSs is characterized by both its salutary and problematic nature on relationships. Scholars who argue that surveillance is an important tool provided by SNSs believe it fosters healthy interpersonal relationships by allowing people to stay involved and keep in touch with members of their social community (Lampe et al., 2006). Others are concerned about the manner in which messages are exchanged on SNSs given loose privacy settings and surveillance behaviors. Rosenblum (2007) discusses how surveillance of recorded messages, in concert with the disinhibiting nature of SNSs, can lead to relational problems between friends. 4. Favorable characteristics of social network sites to interpersonal electronic surveillance Four characteristics of SNSsaccessibility, multimediation, recordability and archival, and geographical distanceconspire to form an ideal forum for exercising surveillance. Accessibility is the extent to which individuals or groups can obtain a diverse range of information in a relatively simple manner (Zhu & He, 2002). The public nature of communication and availability of personal information on SNSs underscore the high level of accessibility any entity has to others information. Multimediation refers to the convergence of various media, including pictures, videos, and text, into one medium (Walther, Gay, & Hancock, 2005). SNSs have powerful multimedia capabilities in the form of text-based communication that appears beside pictures and videos. The consortium of messages delivered through multimedia over SNSs is prized by those who seek to engage in IES. Further, records of archived messages, pictures, and videos exchanged between contacts may encourage surveillance over SNSs. Messages appearing on walls are removed only in rare circumstances (Walther et al., 2008), and photos in which individuals are identied are infrequently deleted. This makes it possible to retrieve a complete log of communication exchanges from the birth of ones prole. Finally, the absence in need for geographical proximity can lower the barriers of being caught. The negative connotation associated with surveillance (Lyon, 2001) may prompt individuals to use SNSs for surveillance functions because these websites provide the opportunity to lurk anonymously (boyd, 2008). 5. Shortcomings in previous operationalizations of interpersonal electronic surveillance The way IES has been operationalized in previous research limits the conclusions that can be reached about this phenomenon. Phillips (2009), for instance, used a measure of online obsessive relational intrusion (ORI; Spitzberg & Hoobler, 2002) as a proxy for IES. The two relational behaviors share some conceptual overlap, particularly in the domain of what Spitzberg and Hoobler (2002) refer to as invasion strategies. Nevertheless, the presumed relationship between the observer and observed is a noteworthy difference between the two behaviors. In online ORI, the obsessed pursues closeness while targets desire autonomy. People who employ IES strategies share an existing relationship with the observed in most cases (Lampe et al., 2006). IES can also only occur once for it to be considered an instance of surveillance while behaviors must be repeated for the collection of events to be labeled obsessive. Finally, there is a level of presumption that online ORI is a negative activity ranging from pestering to menacing behaviors, which is not made with IES. Measures of online ORI are thus inappropriate for evaluating IES that exists over SNSs. Muise et al. (2009) used a single item to address and discuss surveillance over SNSs. The time romantic partners spend on SNSs is considered a marker of their IES. However, it can be argued that

the time individuals spend on SNSs does not necessarily imply they are using those minutes or hours to exercise surveillance over others. Instead, the time could conceivably be spent maintaining ones own prole or responding to friends messages. Additionally, single-item measures, as opposed to summated scales, are rarely ever able to the capture the universe of a construct and are subject to issues of reliability. Other attempts to measure surveillance over SNSs have been directed at vertical or hierarchical surveillance. Fuchs (2009) developed an eight-item measure to evaluate surveillance by organizations over SNSs as opposed to the interpersonal surveillance of interest in this project. Examples of items in the scale include platforms such as studiVZ, Facebook or MySpace store data about me only as long as I do not delete my account and rms have a strong interest in gathering personal data of Internet users. Lampe et al. (2006) provides the most comprehensive and facevalid items measuring IES. Three items in their scale are relevant indicators of ones surveillance behaviors using SNSs (i.e., check out a Facebook prole of someone I met socially, get information about people that live in my dorm, fraternity, or sorority, and get information about people in my classes). In using this scale, however, the scope of the items limits the conclusions that can be drawn about IES. It is presumed that people are searching for information about a specic target, not generalized members within ones network of ofine friends. Adapting the three items to reect a single target would reduce the measure to one item, which, as stated, fails to capture the entirety of the IES construct. The limitations of previous measures represent the need for a valid and reliable measure of this construct. The remaining part of this report provides information about the reliability and validity of a 15-item measurement tool that applies IES to the context of SNSs. Because characteristics of SNSs make surveillance readily accessible (Joinson, 2008), these websites provide an ideal backdrop for testing IES. Additionally, the scale was tested among romantic partners, making it possible to incorporate relevant relational constructs such as partner indelity and geographical proximity. The relationships between IES and demographic (i.e., gender and age), relational (i.e., prior indelity and geographical proximity), and Internet use and efcacy (i.e., time spent on partners prole, integration of SNSs into daily routines, and Internet self-efcacy) variables are discussed in the following section.

6. Potential factors inuencing the use of interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites 6.1. Demographic variables Not much is known about whether demography inuences surveillance behaviors in face-to-face or Internet-based contexts. Some evidence suggests that females spend more of their youth and adolescence engaging in the surveillance of self and others than males. Their motivation for exercising surveillance is to discover sexuality and femininity (Renold, 2000). In online contexts, females tend to spend larger amounts of time on SNSs when compared to male users (e.g., Hargittai, 2007; Muise et al., 2009). This does not imply, however, that females use this time to survey others proles. Instead, they may devote more time to catching up with friends or maintaining their proles. In addition to gender, it is not clear whether younger or older people engage in more surveillance over SNSs. Curiosity of others, which manifests primarily at younger ages, may compel individuals to employ face-to-face and Internet-based surveillance strategies than older individuals. However, there is only modest evidence regarding gender or age differences in surveillance behaviors to make predictions about their relationships with surveillance over SNSs.


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RQ1: Are there gender differences in the engagement of interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites? RQ2: What is the relationship between age and interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites? 6.2. Relationship variables Interpersonal jealousy has been discussed as both a motivating factor in and outcome of IES (Muise et al., 2009; Phillips, 2009). Suspicious jealousy arises when romantic partners perceive a threat to the relationship from an external source (Hupka, 1991; Parrott, 1991). There are certain circumstances that elicit feelings of interpersonal threat, such as partner indelity (Buunk & Dijkstra, 2004), which exacerbate emotions of jealousy. The ensuing jealousy manifests as a need for reducing uncertainty by gathering information about the external threat. In the case where people have experienced indelity with their current partner, surveillance can be used to verify that the indelity is not ongoing. H1: People who have previously experienced indelity with their current partner are more likely to use interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites than partners who have not experienced indelity. Individuals who move away from their romantic partners often have a need to maintain a place in their lives, which is a concern for college students (Van Horn et al., 1997). Surveillance over SNSs can be an enticing method to become aware of the ofine and online behaviors of partners. Romantic partners who are geographically distributed (i.e., involved in long distance romantic relationships) engage in the surveillance of the others proles as a way to stay connected in their lives. IES may be employed to become aware of information about partners newly-formed contacts, communication with established friends, or events they are attending among a host of other activities. Because they are able to survey their partners in a physical setting, individuals who reside in the same geographical region do not need to rely on IES. H2: Long distance partners employ greater interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites than partners involved in geographically-close relationships. 6.3. Internet use variables The time individuals spend on each others proles is a loose indicator of the amount of surveillance in which they are engaging. It is important to note that these two constructs are conceptually similar but not interchangeable. Partners can dedicate their time spent on SNSs almost exclusively toward exercising surveillance over the other. In contrast, cases exist where close friends and romantic partners attend to each others proles without surveillance taking place because there is no intention to become aware of partners ofine or online activities. Instead, these partners may spend time authoring or responding to messages posted on the message board. The length of time spent on others proles, however, increases the likelihood of surveillance engagement. H3: The amount of time spent on a partners social network site prole is positively related to interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites. SNSs play a critical role in the lives of many by making it simple to develop new contacts and maintain existing relationships (Ellison et al., 2007). These websites can be integrated into ones life in the same way regularly checking e-mails has evolved. For individuals with highly integrated routines for SNSs, these Web-based

technologies replace behaviors normally carried out in face-to-face settings. Placing romantic partners under surveillance is a common maintenance strategy used in many relationships (Guerrero & A, 1998). Because of the conveniences afforded by SNSs for engaging in surveillance, individuals who have integrated these technologies into their lives may carry out surveillance strategies otherwise naturally occurring in ofine contexts. H4: The integration of social network sites into daily routines is positively associated with interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites. There may be some risks of being caught with the surreptitious engagement of surveillance over SNSs. The result of being discovered surveying close others personal information can range from mild distrust to dissolution. People who perform surveillance must thus have condence in their ability to execute surveillance without exposing their behaviors to romantic partners or others. Internet self-efcacy, which refers to the self-assurance in ones use of Internet-supported technologies (Eastin & LaRose, 2000), is likely to be associated with IES because being discovered performing surveillance is such a large risk. As Internet self-efcacy grows, people are more likely to exercise IES as a result of their increasing condence in the ability to escape being exposed. H5: Internet self-efcacy is positively associated with interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites. 7. Method 7.1. Participants and procedures Participants were recruited for the study in one of two ways. Undergraduate students from a large Southwest university received extra credit for their participation. Participants must have met the following four requirements at the time of recruitment to participate: they must be at least 18 years of age, they must be currently involved in a romantic relationship, they must actively manage a prole on SNSs, and their romantic partner has an active prole as part of the same social network (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, etc.). Undergraduate students were also asked to provide non-university adult referrals who may participate on their behalf. The referrals were sought to increase the overall representativeness of the sample. The recruitment yielded a sample of 126 participants of which 35 (27.8%) were males and 91 (72.2%) were females. The mean age of the participants was 23.3 years (SD = 7.3, range = 1856). Thirty participants were non-university adults and 96 were from the university student sample1. Participants were instructed to complete an Internet-based questionnaire, which included items related to surveillance over SNSs, demographic information, relational information, and Internet use and efcacy information. Participants had moderate amounts of exposure to the Internet in that they spent an average of 3.5 h (SD = 2.3) using the Internet each day. Respondents experience with Internet use was extensive; they had been using the Internet for an average of 9 years and 11 months (SD = 3.0 months). Most of the romantic relationships were of heterosexual orientation 95.2% (n = 120) and 3.2% (n = 4) of partners were involved in homosexual relationships. Two respondents did not choose to answer the sexual orientation question. Fourteen participants experienced indelity with their current partner while 122 participants reported their partners have been faithful thus far. Finally, 91
1 A t test was conducted to see whether the two groups differed on the nal outcome measure (i.e., the surveillance scale). The t test was nonsignicant, providing evidence that the samples could be collapsed into a larger sample.

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participants were living in the same geographical proximity as their romantic partners and the remaining 35 individuals were involved in long distance relationships. Data used in this study were part of a larger project on interpersonal surveillance over SNSs. 7.2. Measures IES Scale for SNSs (ISS). The ISS was created for this project in response to the absence of a reliable and valid operational measure for the IES construct. The proposed measure includes 15 items gathered through a search of relevant literature, through informal interviews with experienced users of SNSs, and from adaptations of items in ofine and online surveillance measures. The items are presented in Tables 1 and 2 along with their factor loadings. The scale is based on a 7-point Likert scale with larger numbers indicating greater use of IES in the relationship. A procedure for trimming the scale to achieve internal consistency is discussed in the next section. The nal scale was based on 12 items, which had acceptable reliability (Cronbachs a = .97). Integration of SNSs. The degree to which individuals integrate SNSs into their lives was evaluated using a modied version of Ellison et al.s (2007) Facebook intensity scale. The modication involved changing the word Facebook to social networking sites. The items assessed the extent to which SNSs have become ritualized in peoples daily routines (e.g., social networking sites are part of my everyday activity). The scale, which was based on a 7-point Likert scale with higher numbers indicating greater integration, was reliable (Cronbachs a = .94) Internet self-efcacy. Eastin and LaRose (2000) developed a scale that evaluates Internet self-efcacy or the belief in ones ability to execute a series of procedures online to acquire something from the Internet or accomplish an Internet-based task. The eight-item measure (e.g., I feel condent using the Internet to gather data) takes Internet hardware and software into consideration. The Internet self-efcacy scale, which is based on a 7-point scale, was reliable (Cronbachs a = .93). Demographic and relational questions. Information related to demography (i.e., age and gender) and the relationship (i.e., prior partner indelity and geographical distance) was collected using a series of one-item measures (e.g., To your knowledge, has your current romantic partner ever cheated on you). 8. Results 8.1. Psychometric properties of the ISS In recognizing the absence of a measure for reliably and validly evaluating IES over SNSs, one contribution of this project is

the proposed ISS. A 15-item scale was initially created following an extensive literature search, interviews with experienced users of SNSs, and adaptations to ofine and online surveillance scale items. A principal-axis exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was initially conducted on the 15 items of the ISS to evaluate its properties. The initial extraction yielded two factors with eigenvalues over 1.0. However, the noticeable differences between the eigenvalues for the two factors (i.e., 10.1 and 1.2) indicated scale unidimensionality. Two items (i.e., items 11 and 15), which cross-loaded onto two factors, were removed from the analysis. The second principal-axis EFA yielded one factor with an eigenvalue of over 1.0, which accounted for 68.1% of the total-item variance. A conrmatory factor analysis (CFA) was then used to verify the unidimensionality of the single-factor structure. The variance for the unidimensional factor was xed at 1.0 to solve for issues related to scale indeterminacy (see Hatcher, 1994). The initial measurement model indicated modest t, v2(65) = 240.4, p < .05, CFI = .89, SRMR = .05. The normalized residuals of the 13 items were examined for any standardized error exceeding 2.0. The path of one item (i.e., item 7), which had a normalized residual exceeding 2.0, was xed to zero. The trimming of the scale resulted in a signicant reduction in model chi-square and overall improvement of the measurement models t, v2(54) = 192.5, p < .05, CFI = .90, SRMR = .04. Fig. 1 provides the standardized path estimates for each item. 8.2. Demography, relationship, and Internet use It was important to provide preliminary data on factors inuencing individuals decisions to exercise IES over SNSs to understand this phenomenon. The research questions and hypotheses proposed in this investigation explored demographic, relationship, and Internet-use predictors of IES. The IES variable was regressed on the seven predictors and three control variablestotal hours spent online each day, minutes spent on ones own prole, and Internet experience. The linear combination of the predictors had an overall effect on IES, R = .72, R2 = .52, R2 adj :47, F(10, 110) = 10.72, p < .001. The results for RQ1 revealed that there were no gender differences between males (M = 3.57, SD = 1.55) and females (M = 4.03, SD = 1.70), b = .08, t = 0.95, ns, in the level of IES performed through SNSs. An independent samples t test also conrmed there were no gender differences, t(124) = 1.39, ns. In contrast, the results for RQ2 showed that age was negatively related to IES, b = .23, t = 2.95, p < .01. Younger adults are more likely to employ surveillance strategies using SNSs than older adults. H1 predicted that prior indelity by a current partner promotes IES behaviors. The results did not substantiate a relationship

Table 1 Items and factor loadings for the initial interpersonal electronic surveillance scale for social network sites. No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Item I visit my partners social networking site page often When visiting my partners social networking site page, I read the new posts of his/her friends I often spend time looking through my partners social networking site pictures I pay particularly close attention to news feeds that concern my partner I notice when my partner updates his/her social networking site page I am generally aware of the relationships between my partner and his/her social networking site friends If there are messages on my partners wall I dont understand, I try to investigate it through others social networking sites I try to read comments my partner posts on mutual friends walls I am generally aware of my partners social networking site activities I peruse my partners social networking site page to see what s/hes up to I see the friends my partner keeps on his social networking site page I know when my partner hasnt updated his/her social networking site page in a while I try to monitor my partners behaviors through his/her social networking page I explore my partners social networking page to see if there is anything new or exciting I know more about my partners everyday life by looking at his/her social networking site page Factor 1 .81 .76 .82 .82 .81 .81 .77 .86 .84 .89 .72 .85 .80 .88 .70 Factor 2 .14 .04 .18 .17 .24 .15 .07 .04 .03 .06 .41 .12 .28 .04 .49


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Table 2 Items and factor loadings for the trimmed interpersonal electronic surveillance scale for social network sites. No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 12. 13. 14. Item I visit my partners social networking site page often When visiting my partners social networking site page, I read the new posts of his/her friends I often spend time looking through my partners social networking site pictures I pay particularly close attention to news feeds that concern my partner I notice when my partner updates his/her social networking site page I am generally aware of the relationships between my partner and his/her social networking site friends If there are messages on my partners wall I dont understand, I try to investigate it through others social networking sites I try to read comments my partner posts on mutual friends walls I am generally aware of my partners social networking site activities I peruse my partners social networking site page to see what s/hes up to I know when my partner hasnt updated his/her social networking site page in a while I try to monitor my partners behaviors through his/her social networking page I explore my partners social networking page to see if there is anything new or exciting M 3.91 4.75 4.12 4.02 4.36 4.17 3.48 3.84 3.90 3.87 3.60 2.87 3.83 SD 2.07 2.00 2.01 2.04 1.94 1.92 2.01 2.03 1.89 2.00 2.05 1.91 2.03 Factor 1 .82 .78 .82 .83 .82 .81 .77 .87 .85 .90 .83 .73 .88

Interpersonal Electronic Surveillance over SNSs





































Fig. 1. Illustration of the measurement model for the interpersonal electronic surveillance scale for social network sites.

between previous partner indelity and surveillance, b = .12, t = 1.72, ns. A follow-up t test also conrmed no differences between partners who have encountered indelity in their current relationship (M = 4.46, SD = 1.64) and people who have not (M = 3.83, SD = 1.67) in the extent to which they exercise IES over SNSs, t(124) = 1.33, ns. The results also did not support H2 in that long distance partners report the same level of IES behaviors than geographically close partners, b = .04, t = 0.51, ns. In short, factors related to the relationship were not strong predictors of peoples decisions to place their romantic partner under surveillance using SNSs. In testing H3, the result revealed that the amount of time spent on a partners prole was proportional to their use of IES, b = .24, t = 2.46, p < .05, which provides initial convergent validity of the ISS. H4 was predicated on the idea that people who integrate SNSs into their daily routines are more likely to place their partners under surveillance than those who perceive less integration. The results supported the relationship, b = .54, t = 6.36, p < .001, indicating that people who acknowledge SNSs as an important part of their daily activities are more likely to exercise IES. Finally, H6 proposed that condence in ones Internet skills is likely to promote IES behaviors. The ndings indicated a signicant relationship between Internet self-efcacy and IES; however, the relationship was in the opposite direction than anticipated, b = .21, t = 2.73, p < .01. Table 3 displays the results of the multiple regression using IES as the criterion variable and the seven demographic, relationship, and Internet use variables as predictors. A complete zero-order correlation matrix of these variables is offered in Table 4. 9. Discussion The vertical forms of electronic monitoring and surveillance used by governmental agencies and organizations has generated

considerable public concerns (DUrso, 2006). Public fears of privacy invasions and information theft have made people weary of the technologies they use. Newer forms of interpersonal surveillance supported through Internet-based communication technologies have added an additional element of uncertainty to Internet users. This peer-or-peer or horizontal surveillance implies that ordinary citizens, as opposed to large organizations or agencies, have the power and ability to exercise surveillance over anyone. The broad objectives of the present investigation were to explicate this newer surveillance and apply the concept to romantic partners who use SNSs. The latter goal was undertaken by exploring the relationships between IES and several demographic, relational, and Internet use and efcacy variables. The proposed measure of IES was developed using an armchair approach to scale development in which items from ofine and online instruments relevant to partner surveillance were adapted, experienced users of SNSs were consulted, and a review of existing literature on IES stimulated item generation. Although this approach is less systematic than other scale development methods, this procedure led to a unidimensional scale of IES that demonstrated internal consistency. In operationalizing the IES construct, the items focus on the awareness gained of romantic partners ofine and online behaviors by using information available on SNSs. An important contribution made by this project is this proposed measure of IES applied to SNSs. This measure is an initial step in providing a foundation for future programmatic research on interpersonal surveillance that emerges in Internet-based technologies. The circumstances related to a relationship, such as geographical proximity between romantic partners and prior partner indelities, have no association with IES behaviors. These ndings are at odds with recent evidence, which suggests that IES is employed as a response to jealousy from third-party rivals. Long distance romantic partners and partners who have experienced indelity in their

R.S. Tokunaga / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 705713 Table 3 Multiple regression for predictors of interpersonal electronic surveillance over social network sites. Interpersonal electronic surveillance b Independent variables Demographic variables Gender Age Relationship variables Indelity experience Geographical distance Internet-use related variables Mins/day spent on partners prole Integration of SNSs Internet self-efcacy Control variables Mins/day spent on own prole Hours/day on Internet Internet experience t


.08 .23** .12 .04 .24* .54*** .21** .07 .05 .09

0.95 2.95 1.72 0.51 2.46 6.36 2.73 0.61 0.65 1.15

Note. For the gender variable, male was coded 0 and female was coded 1. For the indelity experience variable, indelity experienced was coded 0 and indelity not experienced was coded 1. For the geographical distance variable, geographicallyclose relationships were coded 0 and long distance relationships were coded 1. * p < .05. ** p < .01. *** p < .001.

relationships are expected to be interpersonally jealous and suspicious (Buss, 1994; Buss & Schmitt, 1993; Buss & Shackelford, 1997; Dainton & Aylor, 2001). Because jealousy is deemed a motivating factor in interpersonal surveillance behaviors (Phillips, 2009), there was a level of presumption that geographical distance and prior indelity, in turn, inuenced IES as well. The lack of ndings may rest in the initial assumption made about the experience of jealousy between long distance partners and those who have experienced indelity. These partners may have found a way to move beyond or cope with the relational events and no longer experience jealousy. Accordingly, there may be a faulty presumption these individuals have lingering or residual jealousy. The ndings could also imply that interpersonal surveillance over SNSs may not be used for mitigating jealousy or insecurity in relationships. Previous research and theorizing on interpersonal surveillance has characterized these behaviors negatively. IES has been discussed in relation to cyberstalking (Phillips, 2009) and indicted as a cause of deleterious relational problems (Muise et al., 2009). The results may shed light on an alternative characterization of personal surveillance through electronic technologies not yet seriously considered. Although the desire to gain awareness of romantic partners behaviors surreptitiously conjures negative images, IES may be interpreted as an information-seeking and gaining strategy used in healthy relationships. Partners access information available through Internet-supported technologies to reduce some of the uncertainty in their relationships. This uncertainty, which is

marked at the onset of relationships (Emmers & Canary, 1996), can compel individuals to participate in the surveillance of their partners. This can also explain why younger people are more likely to exercise IES than older people; younger individuals imply involvement in shorter relationships. No gender differences exist in the pursuit of information obtained through IES; females engaged in slightly greater surveillance over SNSs than males but not to discernable degrees. Internet efcacy and use variables provide important insights into conditions motivating partners to engage in surveillance over SNSs. The amount of time spent on a partners prole is an indicator of ones level of surveillance. It may be that the longer individuals spend on a prole, the more enticed they are to gain access to information about their partners ofine and online behaviors. Alternatively, the length of time may be a natural indication of surveillance; it takes longer to gain awareness of partners behaviors than to post a message onto their message boards or place an identication marker on a picture or video and move on. As participation on SNSs becomes embedded into daily routines, people are more likely to place their romantic partners under surveillance using these websites. The convenience of acquiring sought information, in concert with the potential anonymity involved with online lurking, can motivate a need to enact surveillance. Surveillance is made easy on SNSs from the regularity of status updates, news feeds, and open message exchanges. The abundance of rich information reduces the need for extensive searching or formal investigations. People who are concerned about the maintenance of their relationship and have access to information at their disposals naturally move surveillance from ofine to online contexts. In contrast, it may be argued that people who were efcacious at nding information about their partners through surveillance over SNSs were likely to integrate these social media into their daily routines. Less capable Internet users appear to seek information about their partners through SNSs. Because of the desirable qualities related to surveillance, romantic partners gravitate to these websites despite their inexperience. It may be possible that the perception of surveillance as easy and safe on SNSs creates new users of these Web-based technologies. Relational partners who are Internet savvy may turn to more sophisticated means of technological surveillance beyond SNSs. IES over SNSs can thus be characterized as an elementary method of surveillance performed by Internet novices, but this is not to imply it is the only way to survey others or that only novices participate in IES.

9.1. Adapted views of technologies among romantic partners In light of the results from this project, IES may be considered as an information-seeking and gaining strategy among romantic partners. This characterization moves away from the negative undertones associated with surveillance in relationships. Instead,

Table 4 Zero-order correlation matrix of all variables in the study. Variable 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

* **

1 .28** .40** .12 .12 .11 .58** .10

2 .11 .02 .06 .00 .12 .07

IES over SNSs Min/day on partners prole Age Gender Partner indelity Geographical distance Integration of SNSs Internet self-efcacy

.11 .00 .19* .31** .07

.06 .05 .23* .19* .06 .02 .12 .06 .11 .14

p < .05. p < .01.


R.S. Tokunaga / Computers in Human Behavior 27 (2011) 705713

partner who are unfamiliar with others use SNSs to gain access to personal information related to their ofine and online behaviors. Interpersonal trust and relational security can be developed to the extent that trusting behaviors are exhibited through ones prole. IES occurs in many forms with SNSs offering one of several platforms for individuals to enact surveillance behaviors in their relationships. Because of the relative ease in locating information about others on SNSs, it is the forum novice or inexperienced Internet users turn to for surveillance functions. IES reects a reinvention of SNSs described by Rice and Rogers (1980). These websites have slowly developed into a device used for informatics in conjunction with their primary objective for social networking. In this adaptive view, SNSs are identied as information managers capable of personal data storage for retrieval from any friend or contact, which is facilitated by the social networking functions. IES is therefore closely related to Marxs (2004) conception of social surveillance, which is discussed as the scrutiny through the use of technical means to extract or create personal or group data, whether from individuals or contexts (p. 276). 10. Limitations and future directions for research The results from the present investigation must be considered with the limitations of this project. Considering that a large contribution of this project is the proposed measure, it is important to discuss some of the limitations with scale development. First, as previously discussed, an armchair approach to item development was used, which generates a pool of items from brainstorming, consulting established interpersonal surveillance measures, and discussions with experienced users of SNSs. Although this approach is desirable for scale development in relatively untapped domains of research, it lacks the systematic orientation of other more empirical processes. In the more systematic approach to scale development, a multistage process is used for item generation, including identication of relevant constructs and measures, an item pool expansion assisted by expert review and brainstorming, and item revision and then reduction. Future studies may consider the more systematic approach for scale development when composing a broader IES measure. Second, the procedure for verifying the factor dimensionality of the interpersonal surveillance scale used in this investigation involved exploratory and conrmatory factor analyses. Although it is desirable to use conrmatory factor analysis in collaboration with exploratory factor analysis to verify the factor structure of a scale, this project used the same data to both explore and conrm factor dimensionality. One issue with this procedure is that it can capitalize on the chance characteristics of the data set. As such, future investigations should explore issues of factorial invariance of the IES measure. 11. Conclusion Recent concerns have been raised about interpersonal surveillance that takes place on Internet-supported technologies, which has been reected in scholarly research. This research tries to explain the actors involved in electronic surveillance and provide prevalence estimates for its occurrence. Given the relatively high prevalence rates of individuals who report participating in surveillance over SNSs, a shift may be seen in the indifference that children, adolescents, and adults ostensibly have for issues of Internet trust and privacy. SNSs have arguably changed how their users communicate and view communication technologies. This novel reinvention of SNSs may not only change the way people communicate but how they think about communication as well.

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