User Awareness Regarding Privacy Settings in Social Media Sites - Facebook/ Orkut

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ABSTRACT
Privacy of information has turned out to be a paradoxical issue in the information age(Barnes, 2006). One of the prime driving forces to this has been the rise of social networking sites. It is observed that these sites gather considerable amount of information about their users (Baruh, 2007). Research illustrates that social networking users are unaware of their personal information being compromised on both traditional and online commercial marketplace within different companies without prior user consent. However, they still continue to provide their personal details on such sites (Campbell, 2001; Goettke & Christiana, 2007; Govani & Pashley Furthermore, there has been minimal research executed over social graph privacy – preventing data aggregators from restructuring considerable segments of the social graph. Although, personal information may be privately managed, still information about the user’s place may be revealed in the social graph by user’s friends. The occurrence of certain incidents [1] (Alam, 2007; News, 2009) may have been due to infringement in privacy rights (Facebook sues social network aggregator for infringement, 2009) and also due to lack of knowledge among users regarding privacy settings (Weinberger, 2007;Govani & Pashley). This treatise focus is to research on, “The scope of awareness of privacy rights among students using social networking sites.” Representation of facts and figures is based on a survey carried out on Facebook users between the age of 18 and 25 years old. The Results of this paper support and reinforce our understanding of negative aspects of providing excessive information on Facebook. The research document also aims at encouraging users to be well informed of such sites before registering with it. This thesis will begin by informing readers about the background of Facebook. The discussion will then be directed at answering the two research questions. Problems will also be discussed and where appropriate, solutions will be recommended. MAIN REPORT

“Your freedom ends where my nose begins” may, in the electronic era, be transformed to mean “Your freedom ends where my ‘Network’ begins”[2] (Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada: Parliamentary debate on the Advocacy Bill of 1981). Background: Facebook

Facebook has evolved to establish itself as the most popular social networking sites among college students (Govani & Pashley. Facebook is probably the only site that requires full names and a wealth of other personal information in comparison to other social networks (Gross & Alessandro, 2005). Now, since private information is posted on Facebook, it can be accessed and misused by identity thieves and stalkers. (Dubow, 2007; Whelan, 2005). Student users may not intend to disclose their personal information to university officials or teachers. However, there are chances that family members, university staff and others may have access to such information (Schweitzer, 2005). Extensive research is carried out in two areas – type of data being posted on Facebook profiles and whether users are using/not using the privacy settings provided within the site. However, it is yet to be explored the reason why users do not refrain themselves from protecting their information. Is it due to lack of knowledge or an act of carelessness (Gross & Alessandro, 2005). This discussion leads us to understand the privacy settings of Facebook. Privacy Policy

According to the privacy terms of Facebook, the site states that it has the rights to disclose personal information of registered users for advertising, marketing and legal prospects like police interrogation (Facebook Private Policy, 2006). Facebook has recently made changes to their privacy policy. According to the policy, there are two important information that Facebook uses – the personal information that users choose to disclose and the information that the site collects such as sent messages, photos and other...
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