Too close to lie to you: investigating availability management on multiple communication tools across different social relationships

Chien Wen (Tina) Yuan*, Nanyi Bi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: In a world where different communication technologies support social connection, managing unavailability is as important as, if not more important than, managing availability. The need to manage unavailability becomes increasingly critical when users employ several communication tools to interact with various ties. A person's availability information disclosure may depend on different social relationships and the technologies used by the person. The study contributes to the literature by drawing on privacy management theory to investigate how users practice availability management and use its deceptive form, which is sometimes called a butler lie, with various ties across different messaging applications (apps) as part of their online privacy. Relevant factors in mediated communication, including facework, common ground, and interpersonal trust, are included in the developed model. Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted an online survey (n = 475) to explore the relationship between one's contact with different interactants (significant others, family members, close friends, acquaintances, groups of friends, and groups of acquaintances) and one's practice of availability management and use of butler lies with these interactants at different size levels on various messaging apps. Findings: Factors such as facework, privacy related to technology, and privacy related to social relationships affect the practice of availability management and the use of butler lies. Notably, butler lies are used most frequently with acquaintances and groups of acquaintances and least frequently with significant others. Moreover, the practice of availability management and the use of butler lies are negatively moderated by people's conversational grounding and trust. Originality/value: The study examined the practice of cross-app availability management with diverse social ties on mobile technologies, which is a socio-informatic practice that is widely adopted in the contemporary digital landscape but on which limited scientific and theoretic research has been conducted. No research has directly investigated users' availability management across multiple apps from a relational perspective. Building on the theoretical framework of privacy management, the paper aims to bridge the gap in the relevant literature. The results of this study can serve as a reference for library professionals to develop information literacy programs according to users' availability management needs. The results also provide insights to system designers for developing messaging tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-902
Number of pages26
JournalLibrary Hi Tech
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jul 11

Keywords

  • Availability management
  • Butler lies
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Privacy management
  • Social relationships
  • Technology use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences

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