V4-Facebook and Ethics

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Facebook Changes a Security Risk, Say Privacy Advocates

Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world and certainly the most widely used and well known in terms of number of users. Over a billion people have their accounts operational on Facebook (Fowler, 2012) and such is the importance of its presence in the lives of its users that more than half of them operate their accounts via their mobile phones (Sengupta, 2012). Being a social networking site, it allows its users to share their personal information with the people they know such as friends and relatives. They can also manage their friend list by categorizing it in many ways such as people from work, school and college friends and close friends. The Facebook users can block a person in case that person is posting some wrong information about the users through implementing the privacy settings of Facebook. Coincidentally, it is the same privacy settings that have been lately become a source of headache for Facebook policymakers. The newly announced security changes by the Facebook have been up for the debate amongst the users and experts alike. Many privacy advocators deem these changes a direct assault on users’ secrecy.

Rationale diagram

The diagram we have got here is reflective of the case scenario. New security changes will make the private information of users quite vulnerable to strangers. The current security settings allow the users to conceal their identities if someone tries to search them by their ‘names’ in Facebook search bar. This is considered the simplest way to find a person on Facebook (Starke, 2013). Under the new proposed security settings, however, not only the users’ profile photos but the timeline header photo too will be visible to strangers searching the users by their names despite their usage of privacy filters. In addition to this, if users haven’t updated their messaging settings, they will be contactable by the Facebook messaging services (Starke, 2013). Referring to the diagram once again, we can see that there are two arguments opposing the launching of new security settings and one argument (in the form of objections) in the favor of launching new security settings. At the core of all these arguments lies a very important issue: intrusion into the private lives of people; and this issue demands a lot of attention of policymakers. Argument 1A says that Facebook is going to remove the timeline settings. Co-premise 1A-a, in support, claims that removal of timeline setting is particularly harmful for teachers as they are considered very accessible and thus vulnerable on social media. Co-premise 1A-b, in accordance with premise 1A-a, says that teachers can be approached by students in want of some favors. Co-premise 1A-c dictates that unfavorable approaches made to the teachers by students are illegal and could be a case of cyber-bullying. Co-premise 1A-d concludes the argument saying that cyber-bulling is an unacceptable unethical practice. Supportive argument 1B states that Facebook is going to remove the timeline settings within a week. Premise 1B-a supports the argument made saying that making such a huge policy change in security settings and that too without conducting a user awareness program is not a best practice. Co-premise 1B-b proclaims that not following a best practice is completely unethical. Supportive argument 2A says that Facebook’s new security settings will easily reveal the identities of its users to strangers. Premise 2A-a supports the argument saying that revelation of a user’s identity to a stranger could be threatening to user’s privacy. Co-premise 2A-b too acknowledges the argument and states that threatening the user’s privacy is unethical. Supporting claim 2A-a-1 says that a stranger can easily manipulate a user’s information to his advantage if he gets an access to user’s account. Co-premise 2A-a-2 proclaims that manipulating a user’s key information is unethical. Co-premise...
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