Social Media Privacy
Connected to mobile phones, personal computers, tablets, gaming devices, and so much
more, the world of social media lays at an effortless reach of a person’s fingertips. Easy access to
other’s lifestyles makes the idea even more intriguing while paired with the ability for someone
to express their own. Millions of profiles can be searched within databases from Facebook,
Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and countless other social applications. That raises the question
of the number of people using such platforms. According to Pew Research Center’s Rainie,
“About seven-in-ten American adults (69%) report they use some kind of social media platform
(not including YouTube) – a nearly fourteenfold increase since Pew Research Center first started
asking about the phenomenon,” and of the adults, 88% are between the ages of 18-29. The
personal information held by those that are the future of the U.S. is at risk, along with the other
users of social media.
Social media platforms invite users to share the world that they live in as well as read
about the worlds of others. They contain pictures, videos, names, ages, workplaces, relationship
statuses, and the information goes on. A vlogger of YouTube can record and upload their days
and have thousands of viewers sit at home and share the experience with them. An Instagram
user can share pictures of their kids, pets, or vacations, and receive likes and comments from
people that follow their profiles. A casual Facebook consumer can chat with relatives from
thousands of miles away, send them money for a treat using Messenger, and tag the relatives in a
picture they took during a visit.
The idea of social media completely disintegrates the concept of privacy. It welcomes
those that come across to give important personal information to someone sitting in front of their
phones in an entirely different country. While users may be able to navigate to their privacy
settings in their social media and check off whether or not friends of friends can see their posted
content, databases still hold onto their information and track how they steer through their
platform. For example, written by Jeroen from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “… big
data may be used in profiling the user… creating patterns of typical combinations of user
properties, which can then be used to predict interests and behavior”.
Temptation makes social media a platform that users want to fill out entirely with their
personal information. Explained by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s Jeroen, text that
reads “your profile is …% complete” encourages the user to produce more data about
themselves, no matter if they are unaware of what the information will be used for. Tulane
University described the data mining by social media platforms and how it is a threat to privacy.
They refer to the use of information being exploited to observe behaviors and interactions with
the platforms, often for advertisement purposes. Though, they can also share data with third-
party entities without the user’s understanding of doing so.
Along with the insider perspective of the data usage, updates in social media can change
what is being shared without informing its consumers. For example, when Facebook began
automatically tagging a user in a picture without their consent. What if this user did not want to
have this picture on their profile, or be directly associated with it on their social media account?
This highlights the issue with social media and their lack of providing an option to consent and
explain their changes. Then, there is the availability of information to the company’s employees.
With access to data that is deeply focused on an individual and contains detailed personal
information, how are employees accessing it, and how can a person be assured that there is no
misuse of it?
To rid of this privacy problem, multiple ideas should be considered. First, data collecting
is not necessary for social media platforms. It is understandable that the data is used as payment
for the “free” platform, though, why isn’t there a subscription option that avoids data collecting?
Could companies value a user’s data more than they value their money? If so, does that mean
that their data, if sold to a third-party entity, is more valuable than gaining money from a
subscription? For example, LinkedIn offers a premium subscription that promises an increase in
profile searches, a look into the people that view the user’s profile, and so on. Even with this
subscription, data is being collected, so is data really the price to pay for a platform if you are
also giving consent to have money taken as well?
Social media, even though the concept would be unpopular, should be a subscribed
service. This could rid of the large number of bots, third-party sellers, data mining,
advertisements, and more that is caused by a free data-collecting service. It could also give
chances to products that are pushed away from the user’s sight by the targeted advertising, such
as a more reliable product versus a nicer looking product that would have been advertised to the
user. Along with being a subscribed service, the company should provide a short and upfront
consenting opt-in questionnaire that explains the uses of any other data that could be collected
and ask the user if it is okay. If not, then do not collect the information, especially if the service
is being paid for, otherwise, given consent, use the data for the sole purpose that it is collected
for. In taking action to avoid the privacy problems, users can be assured safe use of their
information, third-party entities will not be able to collect data that was not earned by consumers
directly, and the companies that shaped the social media platforms would still receive their
compensation for their creation.
Key Social Media Privacy Issues for 2020. Social Media Privacy Issues for 2020: Threats &
Risks, Tulane University, School of Professional Advancement. Retrieved August 20, 2020 from
Rainie, Lee. How Americans Feel about Social Media and Privacy, Pew Research Center.
Retrieved August 20, 2020 from Pew Research Center:
Van den Hoven, Jeroen, et al. Privacy and Information Technology, Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy, Stanford University. Retrieved August 20, 2020 from Stanford University:
Now project 1 isn't as boring! I decided to center all of the title-ish
text to look organized and make the main title of the paper I wrote bigger. The other
titles (for work-cited and the addendum) are the same bold text but
slightly smaller, just to not take over the spotlight from the paper's
title. I put slim orange borders around the other text because I thought
that it looked nice and sleek... I also like the color orange. The box
around the paper information is not as wide as the others, mainly because
I thought it made the text look neater and easier to read. The other ones
I had wide because I didn't think the contents (like this) were as
important, and not exactly the main content of the paper. They're almost
like the credits of a movie. The names for each div were kind of random.
The one for the paper contents was called "center" cause I wanted the
text to be nice and centered, and the other one is called "anotthaone"
because why not. Each paragraph of the paper breaks with a new line
between each one for organization.