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Social Networking: The Death Of Privacy?

2718 words - 11 pages

            Social networks have become an increasingly popular way for people to communicate over the last decade. Whether it is through a wall post, a picture, a video, or a link, users are able to share stories and details about their lives through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube. Mark Zuckerberg, a Harvard student who hacked the university’s network to obtain photos and information about other students on campus, created Facebook in 2004. Today, Facebook has more than one billion weekly active users. According to information found on Facebook’s website, “[M]illions of people use Facebook every day to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.”  However, if the man behind all of this was a hacker himself, what might this say about the security of the website itself?  Just how safe is this site and others?

            The truth of the matter is social networking sites are only as safe as a user makes them. Unfortunately, many of the free privacy settings available for users on the internet are not the default. To protect themselves, users must be sure to censor what they post online and activate the appropriate privacy settings to secure their information. Individuals who share their personal information online must realize that anything they post has the potential to be viewed by millions of people online, not just their friends. As authors Dianne Timm and Carolyn Duven suggest,“[W]hen an individual shares information on a social networking site, he or she is sharing that information with the rest of the world even if the intent was to share with only a select group of people” (Timm and Duven 90). The reality of online privacy is there is no way to ensure that what users post online will not be seen by other people. When users realize the reality of online privacy, they often feel violated or exposed. Understanding privacy is important, but activating those settings is even more crucial. Data posted on social networking sites should be fair game for employers and administrators of higher education because they provide insight into the applicant’s or student’s personal life, demonstrate responsibility and accountability, and may contribute to an individual’s professional growth by enhancing personal knowledge and skills obtainable only by online communication.

            Telephone numbers, addresses, social security numbers, and email addresses are all examples of information that most people consider private. But just how private is this information? The term “privacy” has become difficult to define with the growth of technology, specifically the internet. The expansion of technology has made what is private and what is not very unclear. People find themselves in situations where they believe they are protected, but discover the privacy agreement suggests otherwise. College students in particular are suffering consequences...

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