Strategic Invisibility: How Creators Manage the Risks and Constraints of Online Hyper(In)Visibility

Hanne M. Stegeman*, Carolina Are, Thomas Poell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article examines how sexual content creators manage their (in)visibility, as they navigate the constraints of online hyper(in)visibility. So far, research has focussed on how creators more generally attempt to enhance their visibility through social media platforms. Yet, especially for sexual content creators, platform visibility is not straightforward. These creators are hyper(in)visible: facing simultaneous risks of erasure and public scrutiny, harassment, and stigmatization. Drawing on 27 interviews with creators—online sex workers; LGBTQ+ activists; and sex educators—this research outlines the harms of hyper(in)visibility and creators’ tactics for strategic invisibility. These interviews showcase how hegemonic norms make socially marginalized content both hypervisible and invisible, as well as how these dynamics are reproduced and institutionalized on platforms. As they are transgressing hegemonic sexual norms, the interviewees discuss risks of platform surveillance, outing, doxxing, harassment, and capping. Yet, within the confines of platforms, these creators find ways to manage and resist these risks and positively engage with strategic invisibility. Taken together, the analysis shows the need to complicate the notion of creator visibility and sensitize research to how creators seek particular types of visibility, as well as strategic invisibility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20563051241244674
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume10
Issue number2
Early online date19 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

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