Privacy Settings/Setbacks

First I just want to thank the readers who posted on my blog. I was a little late getting everything organized and it was very good of them to reply so that I could do this next part of the assignment! Thanks.

The main thing that I noticed in the comments was the concern that people have about the issues of privacy online. As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, the way people think about privacy has changed; fifteen years ago, very few people would have felt comfortable putting any of their personal information online. Eventually people became comfortable doing things like shopping online with their credit cards, Now it is common to have a Facebook account with semi-public information including address and phone numbers, pictures, lists of friends, maps and even events that could tell interested observers where you will be at a given time.

My theory about this is that once people have something that makes their lives more convenient in some way, they find it very difficult to step back from having that thing. Facebook is looked at by many younger people, some of them who have almost grown up with social media, as a social necessity. It is possible to have a social life without it, but it is inconvenient to do so, not only for the person who decides not to use Facebook but also for all of that person’s friends who have to accommodate that person. Many people cave and just use it against their better judgement, and once they are on their Facebook has a way of pulling data out of them by requiring them to fill out certain profile parts, and through the involuntary tagging of them by their friends. This loss of choice about what one shares is part of the cost of using the service.

People rely on Facebook’s self-imposed privacy tools as a way of making sure their private lives do not get out online, but few users make really advanced use of these tools; most are content to just have their content only seen by friends, but considering many people have hundreds or thousands of friends, the meaning of something being private or between friends can change when it goes out in front of many people, some of which are only acquaintances or “internet friends.” Besides this, Facebook’s main business is selling customer data to advertisers, which puts the idea of trusting their sticking to their privacy promises in a less believable light. Generally though, people feel like they need Facebook, and so they are content to not look too closely about how private their privacy actually is!

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