Are we as concerned with our SNS privacy as we should be?

While people were once afraid to give their phone number and email address to anyone other than hospitals and authority figures, why is it that people are now volunteering to share this information and more with clerks at a store and social networking site questionnaires?

While it is difficult to tell how we became so open and willing to give out our information to (what seems like just about anyone), it is clear that we no longer think about giving it out; we just do it. It seems that with this shift, all sorts of companies are asking for this information and we do it without hesitation.

Do you want to sign up to a new social networking site? What about LinkedIn or Facebook? While these social networking sites can help you to stay connected with old friends, stay in touch with family in other parts of the world, or provide work and internship opportunities, we as users do not stop to think about what is happening behind the scenes. You can’t create a social networking site account today without entering at least your full name and an email address. That in itself is enough information for companies to use and distribute. Of course we don’t stop there. The websites are interactive to keep you interested and connected so it requires you to enter more personal information.

Anything you post to Facebook, without changing multiple privacy settings, can be seen by the public and therefore be distributed. This includes profile pictures, check-ins which shows your location, and your list of friends. The article from the reading titled “Why Facebook is Wrong: Privacy is Still Important” states that Mark Zuckerburg said that “the world has changed, that it’s become more public and less private.” This is why in December 2009 he created Facebook to be a more public social networking site. There is a lot of user hesitation to this approach because anything your users include on their profile is defaulted to be allowed to be publicly seen and distributed to the World Wide Web.

Unfortunately, changing these default settings to keep your profile more private isn’t as easy as it sounds. In my opinion, navigating around the privacy settings page of Facebook is quite difficult. Without helpful guides like what is posted on this website http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/komando/2013/01/18/kim-komando-facebook-settings/1827413/ it is a challenge to find what you are looking for or what hidden privacy settings you should be changing or looking for but don’t know they exist. Not only is that a problem for pro-privacy users but some privacy options are not available to its users.

This is another website that talks about giving away too much information on the internet. http://www.whoswatchingcharlottesville.org/social.html

When hearing that not all privacy options are accessible for a social networking site’s users, you might be asking, “How is this legally possible?!” It is one trick that all companies use called the terms and conditions. Because you cannot advance on the site without accepting them, you click “I Agree” to use their service. Do you read it? No. No one does. South Park created an episode that relates to what (extremes) companies can do because you have agreed to their terms and conditions. You can watch the episode online here http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e01-humancentipad .

While the distribution of and peering into of personal information should be scary to its users, people today don’t seem to think about what exactly they are posting and what future consequences it could have. While some people are cautious, most are not. Are we as concerned with our social networking sites’ privacy as we should be?

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