This week in class we have been discussing the growing issue of privacy concerns on social networks. This is a fairly new issue that has developed because of the growth of the Internet and especially social networks. I consider myself to be very Internet savvy and I have a wealth of knowledge in new technology. But I was very surprise to find out some of the facts and statistics I learned this week about social networks. I mean honestly how much of us actually read the privacy settings provided by the social networking sites that we use. I am signed up with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + and I have never read any of these sites privacy settings. Maybe it is just me, maybe I am the idiot who doesn’t read every line of a contract before clicking the submit button. But if you think I am just an idiot then your mistaken. Just as our speaker today Eva, an activist at EFF/Circus and civil liberties, stated almost 100% of the time when she ask users if they have read the privacy settings the answer is no. So I ask you, have your read the privacy settings of your social networks that you are apart of?
Maybe you should. It seems that the information that you are providing to Facebook, Twitter, and Goggle + is not being just shared with these networks but with the Internet as a whole. The question you might ask yourself is why! Why are these social networks collecting, storing, and sharing my information? And the answer is pretty simple, to build a profile of you. They want to build a profile of you so that they can sale your information to advertisers. Advertisers are how the social networking sites make money! Not from you. They are offering you a free service, so they need to make money from the advertisers and app developers. But if you’re like me you don’t really pay attention or care about how Facebook treats your information. But maybe you should start thinking about it. I started to do some research of my profile so I looked at my past photos, post, and comments I had on Facebook. Then I looked at my privacy settings. It would surprise you how much information is stored. I knew that I would be looking for a job in the near future so I wanted to clean up my profile. First I made it so that my page was private. Only I could see my photos and certain information about myself. But I recently looked at my page from a friends profile and the privacy settings that I set were erased or overwritten. I was very confused. Then I started to get anger. How long was my profile open, why didn’t Facebook notify me when the changes reset? So I decided to get smart, I took away all the embarrassing items on my Facebook that I thought were inappropriate, like pictures of me drinking and partying. But some photos wouldn’t let remove them, its like Facebook was not let me clean up my profile, they didn’t want me deleting items that made me describe who I really was. They want users to share all of their information. They want Facebook to be your own personal diary, blog, and photo album.
Which leads me into my final point, social networks are not supposed to display the person that you are. It is so much more that makes up a person then their comments, videos, and pictures. And that is all that social networks provided you. It doesn’t give you an in depth look at a person, it is only a look at the surface of a person. I can be a hard worker and enjoying partying and drinking with my friends. I can be a Christian and support the gay and lesbian community. It is something called code switching. You are not the same person at work that you are when you are out with your friends. But if that is all you know about me is my wall post or tweets then you do not know me at all.
So who is to blame? Should we blame the social networks or ourselves? I have taken the approach that both parties are at fault. As a user you shouldn’t put all of your personal business on the Internet. Maybe this is a why in danah boyd paper, Facebook privacy settings: Who cares?, she states that younger users ages 18-39 change privacy settings more then older users ages 30-49. Maybe they do this because they haven’t learned the lesson of sharing all of your information is bad. The older adults are more worried about Facebook settings but they aren’t sharing as much information about themselves. Also I think its the social networks fault because as boyd states Facebook doesn’t make it easy to change your privacy settings. So my advice to anyone before you hit the tweet, send, or comment button look at it like this, once I hit this button its going out so that the world can view and read this information, and do I really want what I am saying to be viewed by everyone.