Social Media and the Loss of Privacy

Social media arguably has one of the biggest social impacts on society. It is a tool to stay in contact with friends and families, connect with new acquaintances, and share information about new experiences and personal opinions. In fact, social media is currently the most popular online genre of all. Since this is the first post regarding the topic, it’s best to define the term social media, which, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, are forms of electronic communication (web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos.)

One of the trends Cairncross mentions is the loss of privacy with new communications. While many people would agree that one of the benefits of social media is that you can post and share with friends, many don’t realize just how vulnerable their information is. While it is originally intended to just be shared with a core group of people, it has the potential to be seen by thousands. Thus, I believe the trend of a loss of privacy is extremely accurate to the internet genre of social media.  By partaking in social media activities, you are essentially agreeing that your information is out on the internet for all to see. Many sites, especially Facebook, have received widespread media attention on their privacy policies (Weinstein, 2013) . Most users don’t realize what exactly they are consenting to by using the site and how their information can be accessed by third parties. Multiple campaigns have been launched to revamp the privacy policies for these sites, and to some extent they have been successful, but there is still much room for improvement in order to better protect the user. Now we’ve all heard our parents and mentors tell us not to post anything that we wouldn’t want our grandmother or employer to see, but to what extent should this be true? Nowadays employers are scouring social media sites of potential employees in order to determine if they will represent the company well or rather would likely be a liability. In fact, the Air Medical Journal reports that because of the proliferation of social media, employers are now crafting internal company policies to restrict specific content from being posted by their employees (Clark, 2010). That type of policy could be seen by some as restricting the freedom of speech (Abril, P., Levin, A., & Del Riego, A., 2012). Is it fair that the user should have to take caution, instead of the site creating barriers in order to protect their information? It is because of all of this that social media can be accurately described as following the trend of loss of privacy, as seen with the world-wide concern on the topic.

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