With the increase in internet connectivity all around the world, the world is getting smaller as people now are able to get in touch through social media. People are now relying on the internet as their medium of communication as opposed to the earlier modes of communication. Virtual communication has perhaps become most popular among the younger generation boasting about 90 per cent of youth population. This has seen the emergence of a variety of social media platforms like Face Book, Twitter, and LinkedIn in a bid to capture this existing market. Although social media exhibits far more advantageous characteristics like speed and convenience as opposed to traditional media forms, questions have been raised as to whether the users rights are being infringed upon. In this paper, we look at how social media platforms are crossing ethical boundaries and whether this should be allowed.
In 2012, more than 500,000 Face Book users were exposed to newsfeeds that were meant to gauge their emotional response. This brought a lot of buzz among most internet users because Face Book had not publicly disclosed their intention to the users prior to the research. This is just but one of the instance where the social media sites have intruded on user`s rights. The Obama administration recently proposed a consumer privacy bill of rights which was meant to give American internet users more control over their personal information. Under this new bill, users would be able to have full control over what these companies collect and how they use it. The bill would also require the companies to fully disclose their privacy and security policies. Divulgence of personal information is not a new thing in social networking. The inclusion of personal pictures and messages has virtually made privacy almost impossible. The porosity of the cloud has made people vulnerable to attacks causing significant privacy concerns.
Cyberbullying has been on the increase among the American youth bringing into question safety concerns over whether information is private once it finds its way on the internet. In this digital era, it is safe to say that privacy cannot be guaranteed once information finds its way to the internet. Although the internet users have a major role in protecting their privacy, few people are taking that into consideration. Most social media users especially teenagers are revealing their intimate information on cyberspace making them vulnerable to the cyber-attacks. It has been long known that government agencies including the NSA and marketing companies collect personal information online in order to come up with information that would be meaningful to them. This information usually is obtained from the social media platforms without the consent of the user. Although there are terms of agreement before joining these platforms, few internet users read and understand the terms. Disclosing or otherwise acquiring personal information from internet users without their consent is unethical and should not be allowed.
The need to store large amounts of data and be able to access them anytime and anywhere you want has made cloud storage a very attractive platform. Google drive, drop box- these file sharing services have revolutionized how people store and access their data. Although they are convenient, spam attacks have been common resulting in loss of data or leaking of private information. There have also been concerns on security and durability of service. Just like any other new technology, cloud storage is expected to undergo transformation with development of better encryption methods and hardware.
Privacy concerns are an important issue to everyone using the internet services and therefore social media platforms should ensure the privacy of their users is maintained. Technology possesses great advantages if a good working framework is developed and if all parties comply with the law.
Buchanan, E. Social Media, Research, and Ethics: Challenges . NY: Rockefeller University Center for Clinical and , 2012.
Spinelli, Christopher F. "Social Media: No Friend of Personal Privacy." 2010.
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