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.

Works Cited

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 Tulane University: sopa.tulane.edu/blog/key-social-media-privacy-issues-2020.

Rainie, Lee. How Americans Feel about Social Media and Privacy, Pew Research Center. Retrieved August 20, 2020 from Pew Research Center: www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-complicated-feelings-about-social- media-in-an-era-of-privacy-concerns/.

Van den Hoven, Jeroen, et al. Privacy and Information Technology, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University. Retrieved August 20, 2020 from Stanford University: plato.stanford.edu/entries/it-privacy/.

Addendum

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.