Social Media and Privacy

By Kelsey Correia
Social Media Directed Study Candidate

The Internet has not only become a primary means of communication but it has become a major storage of personal information. In today’s day in age, social networking sites have captured the interest within various age groups. Social networking has blurred the lines between the right to know and the need to know for individuals and society. The rapid advance in technology in this culture sparks conflict with the concept of circles of intimacy. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are of the leading networking sites that raise issues of privacy, secrecy and discretion.

Many people say without some degree of privacy civilized life would be impossible. There is a difference between the right to privacy and the need to privacy. The right to know and the need to know are distinct concepts and are not interchangeable. The need to privacy is more personal, and the right to privacy is legal. The law allows for a person’s privacy is four ways: it’s illegal to intrude on a person’s solitude, it’s illegal to reveal an embarrassing private fact from the past if it has no bearing on current status, it is illegal to present a person in a false light, and it’s illegal to use another persona name or likeness for your own commercial gain without the persons permission. The right to privacy is different for different people. The need for privacy allows you to go on with your daily life, along with the need to know

According to the Fast Company magazine, with the growth of social networks, it’s becoming harder to effectively monitor and protect site users and their activity because the tasks of security programmers become increasingly spread out. Privacy Settings have become more advanced and users are allowed to filter information. On MySpace the privacy settings allow you to hide certain blocks of information and block certain friends. Facebook allows you to choose for each person you become friends with what they are able to see down to the specific albums you have posted. On Twitter the privacy settings are not as advanced, but there are still a number of ways to block information.

Social networking has taken over today’s society and communication realms.  These sites have defiantly brought about the conflict between the right to know and the need to know. Although not protected or mentioned in the US Constitution, everyone has the right to privacy, and everyone has the ability to control what is made public or kept private. Secrecy and discretion is key to keeping what you don’t want to get out, out. Until this moment in time I was not fully aware of the dangers in social networking and the importance of the use of privacy settings, or exercise of the use of discretion.

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