The negative consequences of online surveillance are consistent media headliners cautioning users to be wise with their sensitive information. This research address both positive and negative outlooks of online surveillance. According to Lee Humphreys’ article “Who’s Watching Whom? A Study of Interactive Technology and Surveillance”, a yearlong experiment explored how people think about privacy and surveillance when using mobile social networks (Humphreys 2011, 575). In examining Google’s Dodgeball, a mobile service like foursquare that allowed users to provide their location-based information with others, they discovered that “most informants were not concerned about privacy when using the mobile social network because they felt they were in control of their personal information” (Humphreys 2011, 576, 578). Researchers concluded there are three kinds of surveillance present in today’s social media era: voluntary panopticon, lateral surveillance, and self-surveillance (Humphreys 2011, 577).
This study thoroughly deepens the understanding of modern privacy by focusing on the growing presence of social media access cell phones (Humphreys 2011, 576). “In the United States, over 302 million people are mobile phone subscribers” and it is predicted that by 2020 most individuals worldwide would have mobile Internet access (Humphreys 2011, 575). This has created questions regarding social media expectations, norms, and understandings about privacy and surveillance when broadcasting personal and locational information (Humphreys 2011, 577). “Privacy has been defined as the ability to control what information about one is available to others. When one cannot control what information about oneself others know, one may be open to surveillance by others” (Humphreys 2011, 576). Lyon defines surveillance as ‘‘any collecting or processing of personal data, whether identifiable or not, for the purposes of influencing or managing those whose data have been gathered’’(Humphreys 2011, 576). The power of surveillance is largely due to people not knowing if or when they are being watched; “everyday people can search for information about other citizens without their knowledge or permission” (Humphreys 2011, 577).
This power of surveillance allows people to be grouped based on their perceived economic and political value (Humphreys 2011, 591). It has been suggested that in using mobile social media we sacrifice personal privacy because people no longer have control over their personal information but we are willing to sacrifice this information because of the personal benefits it brings us (Humphreys 2011, 577). Privacy research has concluded that those who were not overtly concerned about their privacy due to two reasons, 1. Because they felt they had control over their information and who was privy to it and where it was going and two, because the users felt they were “experienced and savvy Internet users” (Humphreys 2011, 580). Yet, this...