Social networks and privacy: The era of publicness
Abd Al Karim Saleh Iqelan
American University of Sharjah
Dr. Khawla Ahmed
Social Networks and Privacy: The Era of Publicness
“Privacy seems to encompass everything, and therefore it appears to be nothing in itself” (Solove, 2008, p. 7). It is an oversimplification to define privacy as all what an individual owns. With the evolution of new technologies nowadays, it is very hard to define privacy because it varies from one person to another and from one culture to another (Solove, 2008). With the rise of social networks during the last decade, new views about privacy started to emerge due to its special mechanism in sharing information. Social networks enable users to instantly share information, thoughts, photos, products and videos with the many users in the network at once. Unlike other means of communication, the information in social networks can spread to hundreds of users in seconds. Then, the users who received the information may share it among their network, and then further to other networks, which will end up in spreading the information to millions of people in no time, just like a chain reaction. This new mechanism of sharing, which is becoming faster every day, raised new concerns about privacy among individuals and organizations. In spite of all these concerns about the personal privacy on the social networks, social networks websites are the most visited websites in the internet. For example, Facebook has reached 901 million monthly active users in April, 2012 (Hachman, 2012). Although social networks enables an easy sharing of private information about individuals or low profile information about organizations, individuals and organization should not be afraid of using social networks due to privacy concerns, and instead they should be more public and utilize the social network.
Being public and open to the world is better than being private and closed because it enables people to learn from others personal experience. Naturally, any individual or organization benefits from communicating with others. Nevertheless, communication with others, regardless of the mean of communication, usually involves giving away some private information to the other. However, social networks empowered the world a new mean of communication that benefits all the users in the network by sharing private information. For example, an individual can share some previous experiences such as overcoming an illness, eating habit, or making a project. Being afraid of sharing experience, because of privacy, would only deprive others from benefit of these experiences. According to Tapscott (2012): Fully 20 percent of all patients with the fatal disease ALS share intimate information about their treatment and condition on the network PatientsLikeMe.com. And tens of thousands of others with rare diseases who use that website report that sharing has helped them better manage their illness (¶ 10). Because the social network enabled them to share information about their medical conditions, which is very private information, they supported each others with valuable information about their disease and inspired each others with their experience. Social networks enhanced collaboration, which in return brings benefits to all individuals, at the cost of personal information. Some may argue that because of posting private information on social networks, some employee may suffer from being fired from or being denied for a job. In other words, social networks negatively affect employment because they allow the employers or managers to access an employee’s or a job applicant’s private data. For example, Andrews (2012) states in her book that a high school teacher, called Ashly Payne, was asked to resign because she uploaded a photo of her on Facebook drinking an alcoholic drink even though it is legal to drink in her country. She also claims that employers “will not hire someone...
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