Power, Freedom, and Privacy on a Discipline-and-Control Facebook, and the Implications for Internet Governance

Ming Cheung, Zhen Troy Chen

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The proliferation and penetration of social media into professional and everyday lives have reshaped the way in which people deal with their personal information and call for refreshed perceptions and conceptualizations of the power relationship between individual users and technology giants. Despite intensified privacy concerns and crises over social media, there is little research on the correlations between users' privacy perception and protection in non-Western settings. Research question: To what extent are Hong Kong Facebook users willing to sacrifice control over their information in exchange for self-expression, sociality, and intimacy in their social roles and relationships? Literature review: We first identified a gap in the literature on user perceptions and concerns over privacy in Eastern cultures, which is scarce despite the increasing concern over privacy in professional communication. Informed by the recent literature on the privacy paradox and Foucault and Deleuze's work on power, the unbalanced and normalizing power relationship between Facebook and its users in Eastern contexts is identified as a synthesis of discipline and control. Research methodology: Data from a survey of 797 young users in Hong Kong were used for our analysis of privacy perception and protection. The survey contained three sections: Facebook usage, attitudes and behaviors, and basic demographics. Results: The findings support our hypotheses in revealing that the privacy paradox is evident for Facebook users in Hong Kong. In addition, excessive Facebook use leads to reactive privacy awareness and normalization behaviors. Conclusion: We believe that technology giants, such as Facebook, should be pioneers in safeguarding users' privacy while encouraging the establishment of social relationships and freedom of expression. The implications for internet governance are discussed from a multistakeholder perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-484
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Deleuze
  • Facebook
  • Foucault
  • Meta
  • discipline-and-control social media
  • freedom
  • power
  • privacy
  • social network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Industrial relations
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Linguistics and Language


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