A snap of intimacy: Photo-sharing practices among young people on social media

Jette Kofoed, Malene Charlotte Larsen


In this paper we investigate photo sharing practices among young people on the ephemeral social media platform Snapchat. What kind of photos are exchanged amongst 12–17 year olds via this app where pictures are elicited after up to 10 seconds? How is the content of the photos perceived by the young people themselves? We employ an Internet-mediated mixed methods approach. The primary empirical material consists of an online survey focusing on photo-elicitation practices on the two platforms Snapchat and Instagram conducted in 2015 and 2016 amongst Danish young people. Our results suggest that Snapchat is a site for intimacy in that pictures of double chins, ugliness and self-exposure are shared. These activities of photo-sharing and photo-communication bind young people in closeness and friendships. In this respect Snapchat differs from, for instance, Instagram where the pictures shared tend to be more polished, neat and perfect. The intimacy shared and maintained on Snapchat does, however, also cover nudes, dickpics and tarnished pictures. In this respect, intimacy entails both the comfort of sharing and the dramas of disruptions.


Snapchat; photo sharing practices; intimacy; Instagram; social media

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i11.6905

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