Community Under Surveillance: Impacts of Marginalization on an Online Labor Forum


  • Hanna Barakat Max Planck Institute for Software Systems Brown University
  • Elissa M. Redmiles Max Planck Institute for Software Systems



Organizational and group behavior mediated by social media; interpersonal communication mediated by social media, Qualitative and quantitative studies of social media, Social innovation and effecting change through social media


A breadth of literature has examined how gig workers use online forums. The past literature focuses primarily on how gig workers for mainstream corporate platforms leverage forums. Yet, marginalization, stigma, censorship, and criminalization all shape how people, including gig workers, use digital technology. In this work, we seek to take a first step toward understanding how marginalized, stigmatized, digitally censored, and in some cases criminalized gig workers leverage the affordances of online public forums to build community and increase their welfare. To do so, we conduct a qualitative analysis of 4,000 posts and 25,851 comments shared over four months in a large online public forum used by sex workers for peer support. Sex workers sit at the intersection of multiple marginalized communities, and thus offer a lens into the broader use of forums by marginalized labor communities. Our findings offer insight into how these workers use moderation to preserve their safety and community. Further, we highlight similarities and differences between how this community utilizes the forum platform and prior scholarship on the use of online forums by gig workers.




How to Cite

Barakat, H., & Redmiles, E. M. (2022). Community Under Surveillance: Impacts of Marginalization on an Online Labor Forum. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 16(1), 12-21.