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Removing the Mask: Trust, Privacy and Self-protection in Closed, Female-focused Facebook Groups

Archer, C., Johnson, A. and Williams Veazey, L. (2021) Removing the Mask: Trust, Privacy and Self-protection in Closed, Female-focused Facebook Groups. Australian Feminist Studies .

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Facebook groups are spaces where women form communities and share their lived experiences. These peer-created and peer-moderated groups have ‘closed’ security settings, indicating that interactions within the group are to be considered private. They attract membership from women who desire safe, ‘trusted’, gender-specific spaces, though as this article demonstrates, these perceived ‘safe spaces’ are often fraught with difficulties. This article considers Facebook groups as intimate spaces which traverse the public and private, potentially allowing women to remove the mask of motherhood and draw on ‘lay-expertise’ and support. Drawing on three studies of closed Facebook groups, for Australian ‘mum bloggers’ and readers, Australian Defence Force partners, and migrant mothers in Australia, this article considers women’s motivations for creating and participating in shielded online spaces, how expectations of privacy and safety in these spaces are created and maintained, and the consequences when these expectations are breached. Situating the groups in the context of societal surveillance of mothers, migrants and military families, and expectations of intensive social reproductive labour, the authors consider both the liberatory potential of the groups and their limitations as vehicles for social change.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
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