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During the past decade, indeed, more like the last five years, MySpace and Facebook kicked off a new era of “Social Media” seen by many as the defining venture of this generation. Particularly for Americans, social media have become very important to everyone from teenagers to adults. Media and networking have become as important for this generation as the car and steel industry revolutions were for earlier generations. However, these social networking ventures and their resulting technologies, some would argue, have marked the end of privacy not only for their current users, but for future generations as well.
Before we decide whether social media have irrevocably eroded privacy, it is important to define what privacy is, and also to describe how social media works. Merriam-Webster defines privacy as “freedom from unauthorized intrusion, or the quality or state of being apart from company or observation (Merriam-Webster). ” Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ allow groups of people to connect with each other for free, and they fund this connectivity by selling their user’s information to marketing companies.
Traditional business models have led us to believe that if we use a product then we must be the clients. This does not apply to social media. With social media, we are the product to be sold to the paying clients of the marketing companies. Loading… Lyle 2 2 Since social media by definition seeks to connect you with your “friends” at all costs. So much so in fact, that it attacks that luxury to be apart from the observation of others, i. e. , “privacy”, we might imagine a scenario where two friends and I hang out together at a bar and then go home.
Two of my friends have Facebook and I don’t because I do not like the idea of having my personal life displayed on the Internet. Photos are taken for fun. However, as I pose for the photos with my friends, I do not realize that my friends will post these pictures on social media for everyone to see. My friends can tag me by my real name in these photos and what I thought was a private night out with my friends, turns out to be a public event, which people can see and comment on.
In the past, things were simpler and networking like this was not born yet. If the friends and I were to take photos, they would sit in a drawer or in an album and only people who had physical access to that album could see those photos. Presumably those people were not shown to complete strangers or potential employers. Those photos were private, but they are not “private” anymore. Whether you are currently an employee or seeking a job, companies now have the option to invade your privacy through poaching on your social network websites.
They can check all your photos to judge your reputation and decide without even your knowledge whether you might damage the company’s image. In fact, Facebook even collects data on users who are not on Facebook and then markets their information to potential advertisers. Perhaps even more disturbingly, even if I chose to deactivate my account, my photos, messages and memories are stored and used by Facebook for an indefinite period. This concept of indefinite ownership of my past attacks the heart of my privacy: “…freedom from unauthorized intrusion. ” Loading…