Social media and privacy

Social media and privacy; two sets of words that are not usually put together due to the social norm of sharing personal information on Social Networking Sites (SNSs). Being a part of new media and technology, social media has and will continue to become more popular. However, with its constant growth, the privacy issues embedded in Social Networking Sites (SNSs) need to be examined for their ethical and legal issues. Today’s social media, such as, Facebook make it easy for companies, businesses, and more to use the information the users look up or post to see into their life, even if they believe their profile is private. This research paper will focus on the ethical and legal issues on social media that make it easier for people to lose that sense of privacy they expected to receive.
Social media sites, such as Facebook have a large number of users that all have access to a database that is a risk of data-theft from hackers. Although there are precautions the user can take to reduce these types of threats, there are still risks due to the personal nature. The issue pertaining to social media sites is that even when the users makes their profile private, there are still third-party users who gather data through the behavior on their profile. Due to the lack of user knowledge of privacy settings to targeted advertising due to user-specific “likes”, Facebook has received an increasing amount of criticism from users who believed that their privacy online has been left up to the company instead of themselves (Hanebutt, 2014). The Internet hosts an alarming amount of information base; which in turn has given an increased illusion of information privacy. With the immense information of the Internet, privacy and security are a necessity.
There are many privacy concerns that follow Facebook that range from Facebook collecting information from its users and how the information gets shared and/or used, to the setting the users set to control access to their personal information. To give an idea of how information was being shared, in 2007, Facebook launched the Facebook Platform which allowed third parties to develop applications and gain access to a user’s personal information through Facebook databases (EPIC, n.d.). When a user would add Facebook Platform to their page, the application would spread out through their information and collect personal data from the user’s friends; not only collecting data for the main user, but also their users who did not allow this act to happen. This action is an invasion of privacy, due to the person never consenting to their personal information being sent to a third party; although due to implementing Facebook Platforms, this information is being sent out. Furthermore, in 2007 Facebook also permitted outside search engines to be able to search for Facebook users- which until then was only allowed by Facebook Users themselves. By implementing the search engine tool, Facebook exposes its users to the general public through outside searches (EPIC, n.d.) even if the person doing the searching doesn’t have a Facebook account.
There are other privacy risks concerning social media, and when using these sites, it’s important to know and understand the risks involved. For instance, free information is a risk that is another factor to look out for when using social media sites like Facebook. In 2012, Consumer Reports released their annual report on the Internet’s privacy and security. The report discussed information regarding Facebook and how the social media sites deals with privacy, security, and personal information we are willing to share.” (Golijan, 2012). Further in Consumer Reports, a study was conducted, that “dug into private, academic, and government research, as well as Facebook’s labyrinthian policies and controls.” The results were alarming as nearly 13 million users weren’t aware about Facebook’s privacy settings and 28% shared all, or almost all, of their wall posts with an audience wider than just their followers (Golijan, 2012). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have been protecting online privacy for social media. In November 2011, the FTC claimed that Facebook lied to consumers by repeatedly stating that personal information would be kept just that, personal. However, Facebook kept allowing that personal information to be shared and made public (Claypoole, 2014). Millions of people use social media, and control is the main idea to the concept of privacy and letting the person have control over how their personal information is used; by letting them have control, it will grow the trust between the SNS and the users.
Seeing 25 billion pieces of information shared a month, 1 billion unique images posted a week and users pressing the ‘Like’ button over 100 million times per day (Fletcher, 2010), Facebook feeds the “bottom line” of commercial value by using this data, which is highly marketable to businesses, advertisers, future employers, and many more individuals (O’Brien & Torres, 2012). With the information provided by those shares, images, and likes, Facebook should have implemented features to help protect user’s information since the beginning of the site. However, instead of implementing protective features, Facebook has instead lessened privacy, by continually introducing new features and services, such as the Newsfeed, Facebook Beacon, Facebook Advertisements, and the previously discussed, Facebook Platform (Fletcher, 2010), which leads to changes in the privacy settings. For instance, third-party users monitor social media users’ profiles when they share information with a business, sign up for a loyalty program, or even add items in a shopping cart on a clothing website (Nield, 2017). Due to the third-party users, Facebook will start to display related items to that business, program you signed up with, or even the clothing store that you recently visited online. Many find this feature illegal and unethical due for many reasons, such as Facebook not giving informed consent, which is required by Federal Law, and Facebook’s Data Use Policy is too general and does not give users the option to opt-out (Madrazo-Sta, 2014). Additionally, the ethical issue with implementing this practice is whether Facebook allows its users to make a choice in opting out of advertisements or not. Due to the concerns, of this practice, Facebook has provided a new privacy center which will give the users of the site control over their data. To further the user’s privacy on the platform, Facebook is heading to ban third-party data services from its ad targeting platform within the next six months. By doing this, Facebook will be limiting the information companies have on purchase history, which is the main way they target customers; especially among consumer product goods brands (Castillo, 2018).
We are affected by the ethical and legal issues prompted by Facebook every time we use the social media site = and according to Facebook’s privacy policy, “Facebook has the right to save our information and to share it with third parties if necessary’. Even though Facebook states that they will be limiting the information companies receive, that is not for another six months if that, so it is up to the users to take precautions until that limitation happens. There are several solutions to implement to help solve the issue of privacy. The first solution is to educate themselves on making choices to protect their interests. Users need to know that not everything they post on social media is private and limiting access to their personal information will help. Increasing their awareness on the important of information posted and the way it can affect us could protect them from having their information used (Turculeta, 2014). A second solution to help with the issue of privacy issues, it to avoid using third-party apps. As some users install games and other apps that are available through Facebook, they are unaware that by doing so the apps are tapping into personal data, such as the user’s name, profile picture, gender, networks, username, friends list, contact list, and other information. To manage what an app is accessing, going to setting and changing privacy settings can help make sure that the user is in control of what they are sharing (Haselton, 2018). Lastly, though many may not approve of this solution, the user should consider leaving Facebook. CNBC’s Matt Rosoff explained that now that users have learned that the information they choose to share with Facebook is being used in ways “they did not intend”, they should deactivate the account, to further protect themselves (Haselton, 2018). There are many solutions a user can implement to provide protection against the privacy issues on Facebook, the first step is to just understand and take account the ethics social media privacy has.
In conclusion, the majority of people in society, and all around the globe, use social media sites on a daily basis. The main website used is Facebook, being the largest social media platform used by over 1.23 billion people. This company collects an immense amount of date on its users. The main, and most important questions for Facebook is whether they are using this site to build a trust with its users and maintaining a high level of trust by acting ethically. O’Brian ; Torres (2012) said, “privacy is strongly related to trust” and control is central to that privacy. When a person decides to provide their personal information to Facebook, they are trusting in this social site to keep their information private. However, when it is used without permission, they are breaking the user’s trust. Nevertheless, when it comes to privacy and social media, many people argue that privacy on the Internet is somewhat of a myth; When a person provides their information on the Internet, is it still considered private?