Positive and Negative Effects of Social Networking Sites
Since the beginning of time, humans have been storytellers. Even when there was no written language, we found a way to pass on information about our culture from generation to generation. From books, newspapers, and magazines to radio, film, and television, industries have competed endlessly with one another to give a more personal message to their audience. Inevitably, these advances led to the creation of the internet, a place where you can instantaneously search for any story ever told. Now in the digital age, the 21st century has allowed for the creation of social network sites; SNS’s in short, are platforms where you not only have the opportunity to tell your story, but interact with people who share it. Applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram have aided in the sky rocketing participation in online interaction. Unlike the enterprises before it, the online media industry allows individual consumers to create channels, or profile, dedicated to themselves. During the creation, individuals often sign-up with a limited understanding of the privacy policies associated with the site, skipping straight to the ‘I agree’ button. Excessive acts of data mining, customer stalking, and selling of user’s personal information to third parties are eroding the walls of personal privacy, and in turn has skyrocketed privacy concerns in the social networking world.
Social network sites (SNS) are digital platforms used to enhance social communication, create interpersonal relationships, and maintain connections with friends and family members old and new. On the surface, social network sites seem to offer advantages in privacy in comparison to face-to-face interaction. For example, participants of an online discussion have the ability to hide emotions otherwise conveyed through nonverbal communication. Members can compose and proofread their response before posting it, and in turn feel more comfortable with this type of interaction. In this way, people find much acceptance in virtual communities with others who share similar interests, completely changing the nature of relationships as we know it. As a result, western societies have increasingly embraced social network sites as an essential part of their identities. “Today, over two billion internet users consume social media, uploading and sharing hundreds of billions of data items” (Such, Jose M., and Natalia Criado). Facebook alone has reported that as of twenty fifteen, 1.44 billion active users were seen, with numbers rising each year. The universal need to connect with others highly encourages users to have a superfluous list of friends, disintegrating the walls of privacy. A plausible and psychological explanation for the desirability of SNS’s is given by Eileen Zurbriggen, author of an issue of Psychological Science?‹ , who claims that the affordances of social media- connectivity, visibility, social feedback, persistence, and accessibility- attracts humans by nature.
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The affordances of social media- specifically connectivity and social feedback- along with the vast amount of personal data deposited to a mostly foreign audience by users challenges the boundaries of privacy, and necessitates extensive preservation of such. Privacy, by definition, entails the right of personal autonomy, or freedom of choice without manipulation from the outside world. Zuriggen places great emphasis on the importance of privacy to the development of identity, claiming that it provides necessary personal space for emotional release, self evaluation, and limited and protected communication. Understanding the significance and framework of privacy is a crucial part in being prepared for the inevitable breach in security on SNS’s. Living in the age of technology, advances in the field are being made rapidly. Therefore, it is easy to understand how “social network sites facilitate a greater ability, now more than ever, to collect, share, and use personal information, making privacy a dominant concern” (Chen, Hsuan-Ting et. al).
Those who disagree with me- in particular Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg- say that privacy is a thing of the past and that sharing personal information is now the norm. His statement implies that because of the growing normativity of personal posts on social network sites, people are gradually becoming more comfortable with the amount of information they share, and less concerned with the amount of privacy a platform offers. However, it is not carelessness to the disintegrating privacy of user that has brought us to this new age of sharing, but addiction to gratification. Endless interaction and content and user-friendly technologies not offered in direct communication draws humans by their curious nature. The power of control users feel while engaged online is theorized as the ‘uses and gratification theory’. An extension of Maslow hierarchy of needs, scholars claim people seek a number of gratifications they cannot get outside the world of technology, and as other stimulants prove, this can become addicting. So there you have it, society isn’t careless, they’re addicted.
Media industries are businesses, and businesses need to produce a profit to stay active and current. Consumers seem to think that because a profile is made about themselves, and includes material uploaded by them personally, that the platform belongs to them individually; this assumption is wrong. SNS’s are not built for the people, but built to generate money from the people by any means. Recent attention to the disproportionate amount of earnings that social network companies receive raises suspicions amongst users. David Kirkpatrick, a writer at ?‹The New York Times?‹, claims that Facebook is expected to earn more than twenty-one billion dollars from advertising revenue this year! So how are they achieving-and exceeding-their financial goals? The most common way to generate profit is through the eyes of the enjoyer. Promised that we will see their advertisements, companies choose platforms dependent on the size of its user base, and by the ability the platform has to reach targeted groups who could possibly be interested in their products and stories. Surviving on advertising fees, the media industry has become extremely corrupt as corporate influences hold the majority of the power. Because corporations pay big money, the power to decide what type of content and information goes up on the site they are supporting is all theirs. The ability for users to make informed decisions is now being threatened by the muffled voices that ultimately corporations are burying with their wealth.
The liveliness of SNS’s encourages crowds to join in on the excitement. As of December 2017, Facebook has reported 2.13 billion active users monthly (Kirkpatrick). If the multitude of the world is involved, it must be safe, right? Wrong. The justifiable lines between topics such as private and public, and news and propaganda have been crossed. In support of this statement, we can take a look at Facebook’s most recent privacy scandal. It was reported that the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, was hired by a supporter of the Republican party and asked to access tens of millions of users Facebook profiles-without their permission-in an attempt to influence their behavior during the 2016 elections. An article in the ?‹New York Times ?‹elaborates on what type of information was obtained, “the data included details on users’ identities, friend networks, and “likes.” The idea was to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook, and then use that information to target audiences with digital ads” (Granville, Kevin). Out of the fifty million profiles, Granville reported that only about two hundred and seventy thousand-less than one percent- had given consent of their information to be used, but for academic purposes. The collection of our data without consent is a threat to our privacy online. What Cambridge Analytica did with our data is a threat to a free and functioning democracy as a lack of competing perspectives in the media is resulting from these types of actions. We think we have the choice of what information we share and of the beliefs we hold, but it all may just be an illusion.
Depending on the intent of the miner, classifications may cause problems for the user in the future; the most common issue experienced is stalking. A website called mylife gathers all personal information they can find about an individual-old and current addresses and phone numbers, age, names of family members-and publish it for the world to see with a simple search. The worst part is that the only precaution in place is a simple pop-up message asking you to check a box before they unveil your information to ensure that you will not use the information derived to stalk or slander the individual. With no security in place to determine if the person checking this box was honest about their intentions, websites like mylife are an actual threat to our lives. Customer stalking is very prevalent in the SNS world as well. In hopes of boosting sales and positive feedback on customer service, businesses create pages so they can direct message, mention, or comment on any post they please. For example, “by actively monitoring customer messages that mention competitors, Verizon was bale to proactively intervene in an attempt to convince a T-mobile customer to switch phone providers” (Demmers, Joris, et al). These marketing strategy goes far beyond what we think.
It is essential for social networking site users to be aware of the potential consequences of releasing private information on the internet; particularly the platforms you are involved on selling personal information to third parties for profit, data mining, and customer stalking. When it comes to maintaining privacy, we need to make informed decisions of what we will allow. This could mean carefully and cautiously reading the polices you are prompted with, using a different name and birth date, shipping to a P.O. box instead of your home address, using a paypal instead of a direct card, or performing some social gardening on your profiles. In more extreme cases, this could mean denying yourself the gratifications SNS’s have to offer and deciding to not subject yourself to the potential risks of creating a profile altogether, or deleting the accounts you already have. You could also take the activist approach and create a page to educate others, or take your concerns and suggestions to your local city hall. Whatever it may be, something needs to be done, the digital age is thriving and will continue to grow stronger. Become informed, spread awareness, and take action for the sake of our future generations!
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Such, Jose M., and Natalia Criado. “Multiparty Privacy in Social Media.” Communications of the ACM,?‹ vol. 61, no. 8, August 2018, pg. 74.
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Positive and Negative Effects of Social Networking Sites. (2020, Mar 24). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/positive-and-negative-effects-of-social-networking-sites/
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