I use mixed methods to investigate social media’s use and roles in relation to self-disclosure, social support exchange, and other disclosure behavior outcomes and responses to them. I concentrate on experiences that can be distressing, traumatizing, isolating, or stigmatized, and contribute to poor wellbeing. Broadly, in these contexts, I address how we can design social computing systems that facilitate beneficial sensitive disclosures and desired disclosure outcomes such as (but not limited to) exchanging social support, meaningful interactions, reciprocal disclosures, and reduced stigma. Some contexts my work has focused on in the past include: mental health, sexual abuse, and pregnancy loss.
The research trajectory described above focuses on other social media users as information/disclosure recipients. I also investigate people’s attitudes and concerns when companies and algorithms are audiences or recipients of one’s sensitive information. This work goes beyond social media applications to include other types of social technologies. I critically examine the ways emerging technologies such as emotion artificial intelligence may engage with humans in times of distress or in otherwise private and personal settings. I explore the extent to which designing these technologies is appropriate in different contexts, and investigate what it would take for them to be sensitive to and foreground people’s values, needs, and desires.