Facebook makes money by showing its members ads targeted based on what they reveal about themselves whilst using the site. But research from Pew Internet published this week shows that many teenaged users of the site deliberately hide what they’re really talking about using coded language and images. It’s a practice teens use to take control of their online privacy, but also one that could make pitching relevant ads at the group more difficult.
Pew found that some 58 percent of teens intentionally use inside jokes or obscure references to conceal what they’re talking about, with older teens doing it more than younger teens. Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd has studied this activity for years – she calls it social steganography and says its becoming more common – and wrote a response to Pew’s new research in which she explains the practice