• Keepin’ It Real: Facebook’s Honesty Box and Ethnic Verbal Genres

    Ilana Gershon (see profile)
    African Americans--Social life and customs, Digital communications, Ethnology--Study and teaching, Digital media
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    whiteness, facebook, African American culture, Digital communication, Digital history, Ethnic studies, New media
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    Launched in June 2007, the Honesty Box was a Facebook application that allows people to write anonymously to a Facebook profile. The Honesty Box was a fad, popular among some groups at the time of my research in 2007–2008, but which is no longer available. At the time that some IU students were adopting the Honesty Box with a degree of enthusiasm, there was a clear ethnic divide between who was willing to put the Honesty Box on their Facebook profile and who would react with disquiet and even horror when I brought up the possibility of having one. Yet, few people I interviewed saw the Honesty Box as a Black-inflected technology, or an application adopted primarily by those affiliated with African American communities on campus. And conversely, no one during my research mentioned avoiding the Honesty Box as a specifically white thing to do. In this chapter, I discuss why using this Facebook application in particular seemed to fall along ethnic lines, yet it was not openly invoked as a marker of ethnic identity. I explore how different ethnic communities’ shared semiotic ideologies about anonymity, gossip, and insults shape undergraduates’ decisions to adopt and use new media.
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    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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