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Privacy Governing Knowledge in Public Facebook Groups for Political Activism

Madelyn Rose Sanfilippoa and Katherine J. Strandburg

Social media is increasingly used to share information about political issues and coordinate political activism. This paper examines privacy as governance in online knowledge sharing and organizing within the Day Without Immigrants, March for Science, and Women’s March movements.

Structured by the Governing Knowledge Commons (GKC) framework, the study illustrates how rules-in-use creatively support appropriate information flows and govern information resources to balance community objectives and privacy. Interviews, contextualized by participant surveys and Facebook data, illustrate: the importance of (1) polycentric governance and (2) private decision-making in public Facebook groups used by activists, and (3) privacy protecting institutions governing common knowledge resources shared within and across movements.