Facebook: the biggest bully

We all remember the days of Xanga and Myspace, where we could go about acquiring friends, posting blogs or even finding music. Although these outlets still exist they are no longer the driving force of the ways of social media. On these particular sites, I recall it being extraordinarily easy to keep private things private. You either allowed people to see things or you didn’t by changing out privacy options. Boy, have those times changed.

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Facebook. It is Facebook that have changed these things. Transition over to this site seemed harmless, the settings were all very similar, the layout was this cooler looking version of other social media sites, harmless. So what happened? As this particular site got more and more hits, it began to play with its level of power. Little updates here and there has corrupted the idea of easily keeping things private on Facebook. The number of steps to keep something secretive on Facebook is so extensive that most of us aren’t even concerned with it. From what pictures we post to the ones that were tagged in, to what we post to who says they are with us and where, to what we believe in and like, the idea of having control over all of these would put most into a panic attack. So the question presents itself,

Has society become less private or is it Facebook that’s pushing people in that direction? Is privacy online just an illusion anyway?

It is important at this point of the argument to understand the idea of privacy and the idea of secrecy and how although they may be used similarly are very different from each other.

“Privacy has become a powerful keyword, a shorthand tag that gets used to reference a constellation of public attitudes, technical affordances and legal arguments. Yet, the concept is so laden with multiple meanings that any use of the term begs for added specificity and context.” In short, privacy is the ability to not be observed by others. To achieve this on something like Facebook is simple, crank up those privacy settings. Secrecy, however, is different yet is the word that most of us mean to use instead of the word privacy.

se·cre·cy

/ˈsēkrəsē/

Noun

The action of keeping something secret or the state of being kept secret.
The example used in the Marshall Kirkpatrick reading clearly identities between the two. When out at the bar with friends, a buddy takes a picture and posts it on Facebook. Not a big deal to some but to this church-goer, he thought it might ruin some of his reputation. In this situation he is at a public bar with friends, so it isn’t crossing into a realm of private matters. Once posted to Facebook though, he realized he would rather keep it a secret. This doesn’t mean he is keeping it private, although we have skewed the word to fit this meaning. Privacy is much broader. Privacy concerns should be established around the idea that people shouldn’t be able to take your information and post it to other places. So to answer the question from class, no it is not hard to keep things private on facebook but yes it is very difficult to keep things secret.
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Although we are being pushed around (and we know it), we don’t really seem to be doing anything to stop it. Which begs the questions, do we care anymore? Has Facebook given us to much positive that we overlook the negatives is might bring? Unbeknownst to most, Facebook isn’t the only one that can dig deep into our information; law enforcement and hackers have had many run ins with this very problem. Wouldn’t that be a form of ‘wire-tapping’? This is a need for privacy, not the things that we post on Facebook that we don’t want everyone to see.
“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” – Google CEO Eric Schmidt
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