Personalised Services in Social Situations: Principal–Agent Relationships in Account Sharing

Jesse Haapoja*, Airi Lampinen, Kari Vesala

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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We present a qualitative study of how personal accounts on online services, such as Tinder, Netflix and Spotify, may be shared in particular social situations. We draw from agency theory's focus on principal-agent relationships and Goffman's work on frames in analysing situations where others are allowed to use personal accounts, either for a shared purpose or on behalf of the account owner. We deploy Goffman's concepts of regrounding to understand how interests behind activities are transformed and brackets to draw attention to the boundaries of different frames, and how these are incurred or broken in situations that exceed personal account use. Based on a set of 43 written descriptions of account sharing, we depict how employing others to act as agents to use one's personal accounts may lead to playful or serious use. Additionally, we discuss consequentiality of sharing personalised services, considering both what services might reveal about the account owner and how sharing takes place in the context of relationships. We contribute by illustrating how users' relationships with personalised services are complicated by the different interests that are served when accounts are shared.
Original languageEnglish
Article number219
Number of pages21
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Volume 4
Issue numberCSCW3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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