Do you really have privacy online?

Considering management of one’s public/private personae in relation to its privacy implications, I believe the opening statement in “The Valorization of Surveillance: Towards a Political Economy of Facebook” by NS Cohen perfectly explains the current situation.

“Depending on whom you ask, Facebook is either a revolution in social networking and the future of e-capitalism, or a place where excitable youth post too much information about themselves, risking exposure to stalkers or surveillance by employers, parents, and the CIA.”

People, youth who are fairly new to the internet especially, seem to feel an unfounded sense of privacy posting their information to the internet whether it be to social media sites such as facebook, to web forums or varying chat rooms. As far as a public and private personae in social networks such as facebook are perceived, unless your profile is completely private anyone can access anything you post. Whether this be photos from you at the bar last weekend, or family photos from your trip to Cuba last year, with no privacy settings on this information is free for anyone to see. People may feel a false sense of security relating from the fact that they can approve who they want to be their friends, but if their profile is wide open to the public it doesn’t matter; anyone has access to their information. For example, look at the following case found in katiebenedict13comm2f00’s blog,

“A friend of mine got fired from work because her boss saw pictures of her partying, drinking, doing keg stands on facebook. He told her that, “in the interview you told me you were a go getter, a responsible and reliable individual. But, after seeing those pictures makes me think otherwise”. The keg stand photos left a bad impression of her and he fired her. I guess he didn’t appease of the idea that keg stands is an art form and you have to be a ‘go getter’ by chugging as much beer upside down as you can.”

I’m sure the last thing going through her head as she posted those pictures were “my boss might see these”. Again, people are still maintaining a false sense of security with these social media posts. Even with private pages, people who you don’t want to see your page can still have access through a friend’s account that does access your page. There have been stories of employers using this method as well to look up information on employees/potential employees, which have led to employees being fired, as in this case presented on katiebenedict13comm2f00’s.

A lot of this boils down to a point again presented in “The Valorization of Surveillance: Towards a Political Economy of Facebook” by NS Cohen:

“Most people do not read academic and policy literature on social networking and privacy issues, and there is no guarantee that members will thoroughly read-or rear a all- a terms of service agreement or privacy policy.”

Although this statement is quite obvious and seems very understandable, as most people have no desire to read through 50 pages of privacy terms, it is no wonder why people are unaware of what may happen to their information after it is collected. Although the computer savvy may understand why they should be cautious towards giving out their information based on experience, those not “in the know” may be oblivious to the implications of giving out their information. They may be unaware of who will have access to their information and what exactly can be done with it. In summary, I feel the general public has to be educated on the perils or disclosing their information anywhere on the web, so they can understand where posting something is acceptable, and where posting something may lead to a future issue.


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