Keeping Secrets Online
This project synthesises new knowledge that is useful to those who support people keeping secrets legitimately as part of their job and enhances the UK’s capacity to detect and mitigate threats generated via online channels. Online secret-keeping offers a rich seam of inquiry: the lack of non-verbal signals in this environment is known to be used strategically for effective deceit.
The research is sourced from disciplines as diverse as Human-Computer Interaction, Gender Studies, Cyberpsychology, Health, and Crime. It uses three example scenarios in understanding how people keep secrets online: buying and using illegal drugs, escaping from intimate partner violence, and having an illicit affair. Each of these has quite different goals and associated activities and helps us to uncover a diverse range of strategies for keeping secrets online.
This research is distilled into an ‘Illustrated Guide to Keeping Secrets Online’ that summarises the findings in an easy-to-read format, made up of narratives supported by illustrations, research insights, and potential real-world applications for stakeholders. This guide is useful to stimulate discussion and to generate further knowledge on how the strategies, barriers, and enablers uncovered by our research can be applied to people who need to keep secrets as part of their jobs in countering UK and international security threats.