June 6, 2012, by Tara de Cozar

Location, social media and the perception of identity

One of our postgrads is examining the connection between location and identity through use of social media. Abdur Rahman’s research is in its very early stages, but it examines how social media can create one coherent (or incoherent, depending on how you use it…) online identity for us – as opposed to arguably more multi-faceted identities that exist offline.

“The primary aim of the research is to understand the relationship between identity and location,” says Abdur. “One of the objectives is to understand whether people actively project their identity through location-sharing systems like Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter. Are the types of places we share a reflection of who we are as individuals? In other words, is where you are a reflection of who you are?

“Part of the research is also to understand how identity is managed in location-sharing software. Social media makes the problematic assumption that everyone has a unified identity that fits all social situations. In the real-world, we may have many facets of identity. For example, typical behaviour in family, work and social situations may vary considerably. The expectations on an individual in each of these roles can also be very different. Managing different aspects of identity can be made more difficult with location-sharing software where not only are virtual profiles shared, but also physical location. Is there a conflict in representing different aspects of identity through location? Does this effect location-sharing decisions and behaviour?

“A deeper understanding of the relationship between identity and location can greatly help to improve the design of future location-sharing technologies.”

Abdur is asking people who use location-based social media to take part in a survey that will form part of his research for the Horizon Doctoral Training Centre.

Have a look at the ad below, and follow the link to his short survey – you might even bag yourself some Amazon vouchers. We’ll keep you updated on how Abdur’s research goes.

Complete online location-sharing survey for chance to win one of three £100 Amazon vouchers

We are looking for volunteers to take part in an online survey on location-sharing habits. The survey mainly contains questions about how your location is related to your identity. It also asks how location-sharing is managed across different groups in your social network e.g. family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances etc. The whole survey should take no more than 20 minutes.

We are interested in participants who share their location digitally. This includes users of Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or any other location-aware software.

For your participation, you will be entitled to enter a prize draw to win one of three Amazon Gift Certificates worth £100 each.

If you are interested in taking part and meet the above criteria, please access the survey at:


Posted in Horizon digital research