Social Media Invasion of Personal Privacy
By: Jacovah Ling
What happen to the days of writing a letter, personal conversing, or talking on the telephone? With the invention of social media these conventional ways of communication has become almost non-existed. I could recall my middle school years of writing love letters to little girls and passing funny notes to others students in the classroom. Technology has made communication less interpersonal and more complex. Love letters would only be known to the girls who read and receive them. Yes, some of the girls may tell and allow some of their friends to read the letters, but it's far better for maybe 10 or 20 people to be aware of my personal feelings compared to the millions who could potentially access to it if I were to post it on a Facebook page. How did communication become so less interpersonal? Technology is slowly emerging into critical stages of invasion and negligence of personal privacy. Web 2.0 allows people to communicate with each other without speaking one word. The creation of Web 2.0 allows social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter possible. “Web 2.0 allows you to read and write content on web pages. The visitors to Web 2.0 pages are the ones responsible for creating the value and content "(Bowles, 2013). We are responsible for the value and content, but who is responsible for the way someone may view a comment which is posted on Facebook or an idea which is tweeted on Twitter. Close friends and family member may laugh at a post which could avertedly maybe frown upon by a stranger. This intuitive creation of communication (Web 2.0) could be both a blessing and a curse depending on who is viewing it. These social media sites make me contemplate on the privacy aspect of people's posts and tweets. With the increase of technology in social media, I find myself constantly questioning the safety of everyone's personal feelings, emotions, and overall being. "An ounce of discretion is worth a ton of privacy settings" (Awl, 2009, pg.52). Facebook has many components which would conserve one's privacy, yet there are loops holes and ways around these privacy prevention procedures. Someone is unfamiliar with the website may find themselves becoming a victim of privacy invasion. For example, if I would like to see a profile of someone is not my friend, yet we have a mutual friend, all I would have to do is go through that mutual friend's friend list and view the profile of unfriend people of interest. The proper privacy setting would prevent this from happen, but those who are not aware of these settings may not know unfriend members of Facebook maybe viewing their page. This includes their posts, photos, and other material which may not be appropriate for unfriend individuals. The vast moments and increased technology of social media sites may lead to the depletion of personal privacy. “Bad behavior on Facebook can have real-world consequences" (Bowles, 2010). Most of these "real-world" consequences are a result of invasion of privacy, or the negligence of the user to perform privacy setting precautions. Are you aware that some Social networking websites (SNS) such as Facebook and Twitter trade people’s personal information to marketers for a fee? “It is projected that US marketers will spend over $2 billion on advertise on SNS, while Facebook will receive around $1 billion from advertisers world-wide in 2011(eMarketer, 2010). SNS sites can also generate revenues by supplying mountains of their subscribers’ personal information to marketers, recruiters, and any interested party. There exists an abuse of subscribers’ disclosed privacy information for purposes they did not approve of” (O’Brien, 2010; FTC 2010b). With the right amount of money, anyone’s privacy could be compromised.
I would always wonder why I would receive spam and junk emails from advertisers which I was not even aware existed. My Facebook account provides these advertisers my email address, in exchange for a profit. After reading this article, I was upset at the providing of my personal information without my acknowledgment. How much does Facebook really value their subscribers to make such a disturbing and unlawful disclosure? I believed a site where someone feels is trustworthy and honorable would be so deceitful and undermining.
Facebook and Twitter offering subscriber’s personal information is not the only method of privacy invasion. Hacking and becoming a cyber-predator is also a method of receiving people’s personal information without their knowledge. “Two Pew Internet Project surveys show that 73% of online teens and 72% of young adults use social network sites (Lenhart, Purcell, Smith & Zickuhr, 2010).” “Popular media and trade press have been voicing the concerns of government and privacy advocacy groups, but they are also creating a myth that teenagers and young adults could care less about their online privacy (e.g., O’Brien, 2010; Dvorak, 2010).” “Another Pew Internet Project survey indicates that 71% of social networking users ages 18-29 had changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online (Madden & Smith, 2010).” “One of the first quantitative studies to evaluate young adults’ online privacy attitudes also concludes that young people ages 18-24 have aspiration for increased privacy like older Americans (Hoofnagle, King Li, Turow, 2010).
Some allow themselves to become “sitting ducks” waiting for the attack of hackers or cyber-predators .Most SNS requires people to come up with a user name and password in order to personalize and protect it. A lot of people make the simple mistake of coming up with a password which is easily accessible. Most people use their birthday or a nick name as their password. As stated earlier, personal information such as a birthday could be accessed through a marketer, recruiter, or any person of interest. If I was to portray myself to be a marketer or recruiter, I could easily obtain someone who is subscribed to a particular SNS birthday or other personal information; hereby attaining their password to the SNS page. We as SNS users should eliminate ourselves from becoming victims of personal information invasion by creating user names and passwords more difficultly to receive by hackers or cyber-predators.
Gaining personal information is not the only aspect of privacy invasion, but many employers tend to invade the privacy of their employees as well. Delaney said, “If a user chooses to post the publicly on Facebook that is his or her choice. Yet there have been many situations where the employers have requested or even required applicants for employment or employees to provide their user name and password to online social networks to which they belonged. Some situations may also involve employers asking an applicant or employee to log into their Facebook account to allow the employer to search through the account. Even worse, some employers have refused to hire an applicant or disciplined or discharged employees, based on a refusal to supply the information” (Delaney, 87).
I could not phantom someone, nevertheless an employer, viewing everything on my Facebook account. My employer looking at everything from my inbox messages, party photographs, and friends list would be unbearable. It is one thing to judge me based on my work performance, but to judge me based on personal items which should be kept private is entirely a different ordeal. Organizations and employees are so quickly to discharge or penalize employees because of violating a signed confidentiality form, but would violate employees privacy without any penalty, consequences, and at times consent. Why should employees be held to higher standards or have more morals than their employers? There should be equal respect for privacy between the employer and the employee. The lack of personal privacy should be one of the major complaints listed in an organization's 360-evaluation report. The invasion of personal privacy by the usage social media may seem minor to some, but those who are affected by it view it as a huge ordeal. Businesses and employers use social media as a device to determine employment or to discharge employees are some who are affected by it. People who have had their Twitter or Facebook page hacked or had been victims of cyber-predators are affected by it. Those who have been sold out by their SNS to marketer, recruiters, or other group of interested for a profit also have been affected by it. With all of these methods of invading personal privacy makes me contemplate my usage of social networks. With the increase of technology, SNS should apply more settings which decrease the changes of cyber-predators or hackers intruding on subscriber's personal privacy.SNS should also find optional means of obtaining income without using subscriber's personal information as collateral. Employers should not use a potential employees Facebook account as a rubric for deciding employment. Limiting what is said in an inbox message to a friend infringes on and violates our First Amendment Right which grants the freedom of speech.
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