Although this is the final blog assignment for my Social Informatics class, I will probably continue to comment occasionally on the topic. It is evident that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have inundated our society and continually impact many areas in our lives. Our verbal language reflects the influence of ICTs and social media in our daily lives. We discuss events or ideas found on “blogs” and “Facebook,” our favorite books are “tagged” with the central ideas or characters and reviewed on GoodReads. E-mails take the place of phone calls in many businesses and teens are overheard telling friends to “text” them. When we search for information online, we “Google” it. But how often do we stop and think about the privacy issues associated with our daily use of ICT and social media? Many of us talk about it and might even glance at the security and privacy policies on certain websites. We might control various aspects, such as who can “see” our information, but in reality once the information is outside our own sphere we no longer have absolute power over our own words and ideas. Shadows of our information will persist in cyberspace for years.Which brings about the question pertaining to social informatics and privacy issues – how much should we share?
Part of our difficulty deciding what to share online may have to do with the all-inclusive nature of social media. Although people may have many “friends” on a social platform, not all of those friends are considered strong relationships. Sabine Trepte (2015) refers to these natures as “warm” and “cold” affordances. The volume of self-disclosure exhibited to others generally changes with the level of relationship. We don’t usually share as much personal information with people verbally until we get to know them a little better. However, on social media, it is difficult to divide the groups of people with whom we interact into the various levels of closeness. As a result, we provide details about our lives in more detail than ever before. Spence Witten (2014) wrote in his blog, “Sites like Facebook and Twitter have us volunteering details about our daily lives in a way that really has no precedent. We share our locations with geo-tagging apps and functions, such as Foursquare and Facebook’s check-in feature. And we offer up images of our personal lives, available for all to see, on Instagram.”
Is this now something we all just decide to go along with? Do we become desensitized to the lack of privacy when it is related to social media? Social media definitely challenges us when it comes to understanding privacy boundaries. According to Trepte (2015), the ability to comment on others’ status updates, upload pictures, or tag friends is similar to other human interactions in relationships. These experiences contribute to “warm” affordances and break down the privacy barriers. They also contribute to the struggle we feel toward social media privacy issues. Although society has always been challenged by interactions and privacy issues to some extent, social media has presented an entirely new dimension to relationships. The turbulence we feel as we decide whether to share a friend’s photo, or comment on information, requires additional communication and negotiation. So in essence, our high-tech communication, has led to the need for even more communication, in order to respect the privacy of all those involved with social media.
Neiburger, E. (2010, November/December). User-Generated Content. Library Technology Reports, 46(8), 13-24.
Trepte, S. (2015). Social media, privacy, and self-disclosure: The turbulence caused by social media’s affordances. Social Media + Society, 1(1-2). doi:10.1177/2056305115578681.
Witten, S. (2014). Social media presents unprecedented privacy issues. Lunarline [blog]. Retrieved from https://lunarline.com/blog/2015/06/social-media-presents-privacy-issues/.