Normative interfaces: Affordances, gender, and race in facebook

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17 Scopus citations


This study investigates social network site affordances and their implications for perceptions of marginalized communities. I employ Facebook as a case study and speak with young adult users to comprehend how socially marginalized groups are perceived through Facebook’s affordances. In particular, I consider: How familiar are users with Facebook’s tools and functionalities? How are issues of gender and race represented through the site’s interface? How do users conceive of gender and race? The findings suggest that gender is perceived as a more important identifier than race and that Facebook is post-racial, because of the user interface choices made. In addition, my participants view Facebook as an official social space that should include “authentic” identities; although Facebook has shaped authentic to mean accurate. I conclude that while the construction of affordances is a negotiation between user, interface, and designer, the designers have the most power because they have created the spaces in ways that will most benefit Facebook. In addition, users who are more situated in the socio-cultural majority have no desire to enact agency within Facebook’s structure because they are accustomed to forms and official documents that are well suited to fit their identification needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Computer Science Applications


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