Online Identity and Outness: The Facebook Networks of LGBTQ Youth

Publication Year:
2017
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Repository URL:
https://via.library.depaul.edu/psychologynight/54
Author(s):
Korpak, Aaron
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Given the burgeoning popularity of social networking sites in the past decade, sites like Facebook are becoming important contexts for community psychology research. This is particularly true for LGBTQ youth, who may use online social networks to buffer offline support or access LGBTQ community and who face unique challenges negotiating outness with respect to the multiple social groups who may comprise their Facebook networks. In this mixed-methods study, we utilize survey, network, and qualitative data to examine the experiences of LGBTQ youth on Facebook. Participants were a community sample of 204 youth aged 19 to 28 who currently or formerly lived in the Chicago area and self-identified as LGBTQ or same-sex attracted. Participants completed a social network interview using NameGenWeb, an Application Programming Interface (API) that visualized their Facebook networks and subgroups. We examine how participants utilized social media and negotiated their online identities to various subgroups. We also visualize participants’ Facebook networks to illustrate patterns in their online social contexts. Findings illustrate how LGBTQ youth express agency and create community using social media platforms and underscore the importance of examining online social contexts to better understand health and wellbeing among LGBTQ youth.