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Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon. However, for people with learning disabilities, the platform presents many challenges. These relate to social skills, self-expression and avoiding exploitation or other hurtful experiences. This study explores factors relating to Facebook use or abstinence by this cohort; how these may be influenced by their learning disabilities, and how supporters can help mitigate any difficulties or barriers. In-depth interviews (n = 115) and observations of usage were conducted. The findings revealed that themes elicited centred around passive consumption of content, supporter controls, virtual connectivity, vicarious enjoyment and aspects concerning the projection of self. Factors related to non-use included a lack of knowledge or access to the platform. A case is made for supporters practicing ‘facilitated, guided autonomy’ by working with those whom they support to help evaluate ‘friend’ requests, compose posts and generally, emphasising their subservience to those whom they support, act as ‘Facebook assistants’.
Keywords: Social media, Facebook, learning disabilities, inclusion, autonomy.
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