On the other hand, I do sympathize with my friends when it comes to certain privacy concerns. It is not a good feeling not knowing who can access your information. I was quite surprised to see Facebook added their new “ticker window” for you to see your friends’ feedback activity on the top right side corner of the news feed section. However, features like the ticker window is another reminder of being careful what you post on the Internet.
Hopefully, at the end of this blog, my readers will develop a different point of view of not fully blaming social networking sites of leaking their personal details to the public.
Social networking sites are optional.
First of all, no one is forced to have a social networking account. If an individual chooses to have an account, the social network company’s legal terms and agreements for usage are openly disclosed to users, and it is the user’s responsibility to become informed of how their personal information can be used, especially when shared with a third party.
Online privacy issues should be associated to the user’s responsibility in controlling his or her content online, not the social networking sites themselves.
One concern I read from a number of Facebook friends is that social networking sites do not provide full protection and security even when the user fully understands the privacy terms and took proper steps in limiting their information from viewership. However, how can someone’s information be 100% protected if the user did not log off their account to where another individual can access it? How can a user stop friends from forwarding sensitive details or screen shot photos to their friend’s social web and so forth? Free social networking sites cannot guarantee 100% protection. These free websites are not called private networking or private media. The best way to keep sensitive information private is to keep them offline!
Young adults are more cautious before taking action.
We are in a tell-all generation to where users post intimate thoughts, questionable photos, and surprising details about their personal lives on social networking channels. However, later down their career paths, many are and will be haunted with anxiety as they realize that embarrassing traces of their past experiences such as silly comments, or provocative photos have been ingrained on these websites for the whole world to see, this including their current and/or future employers.
In an article in The New York Times called “Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Offline,” author Laura Holson reports on how young adults are being more responsible on what they share online by not disclosing so much personal information. Young adults that are in or going into the business world should be careful on what they post online as social networking sites are now being used as a tool to filter through new employee applications or even monitoring current employees.
In Holson’s article, a 21-year-old liberal arts student stated that she was concerned about her career prospects and has begun removing personal information from the Web such as details of her college partying days. She also accepted a friend request from the woman overseeing her internship. By cleaning up her profile, her employer and colleagues will take her more seriously. Furthermore, employees are viewed in the virtual eye and some of their actions outside of work can be detrimental to their company’s reputation or their employment if they are not careful.
Facebook and Twitter are FREE social networking sites.
Another expressed concern is that people are beginning to lose trust in social networking sites because companies like Facebook have a financial incentive to get friends to share ongoing information. Keep in mind, companies like Facebook and Twitter are FREE social networking sites. Users need to understand that free electronic networking sites need funding. As a result, that is where the advertisers step in financially with their targeted ads flooding users’ news feed and wall sections. Would you rather pay a subscription to use Facebook or Twitter? Are you willing to give donations? Or can you tolerate spam emails and a few of targeted ads on the right side of your Facebook news feed? Which will it be? Have free access with advertising spam? Or pay for the service? Remember: You get what you “pay” for.
The social networking users are the initial publishers of their online information.
Once a user has voluntarily given up information through a free social networking website, they are giving consent for other parties to view it, save it, copy it or forward it. If the user wants 100% protection on cyberspace, then they shouldn’t publish sensitive information. Just remember, if the content is not in the information superhighway, then it won’t travel around to public so easily.