Post #6: Public vs. Private Social Media

In this age of technology, social media has become a beast that can be viewed in both a positive and a negative light. Recently, I read an article published on USA Today and written by Sharon Jayson; I will link the article at the bottom of the post. In the article Jayson talks about how information concerning our personal lives is being collected without us even knowing, by companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, the author goes on to quote several researchers and psychologists about studies they have done concerning privacy on different media platforms.

After reading this article, I thought I would do a little more research myself about the privacy policies of Facebook. As everyone who uses Facebook knows, on your account you are able to adjust who sees what of your profile, however not everyone knows what Facebook can actually see about you. Upon reading through Facebook’s policies, I learned that there is a lot more information collected about you than I thought, including how you interact with the people you are connected with, information about the different devices you use Facebook on, information you provide, along with many other things. Despite all this information that is collected, the good news is that most of this data is used to improve Facebook’s site to accommodate it better to the user. However, it is still unnerving to know that all of your information provided is being monitored and studied by the company.

Facebook itself has stated, along with an attorney quoted in Jayson’s article, that sites will never display identifiable information about an individual without their consent first, but  Jayson is still correct in her conclusion that the strictness in privacy policies is something that is becoming very crucial. In fact, no social media platform is without its flaws in its privacy policies. Jayson even mentions at the end of her article that in the past Facebook has had to “backtrack” on its privacy policies, leading to many people leaving the site due to privacy concerns. So while you may seem comfortable putting your Facebook account on private, it doesn’t mean that it is completely protected from everyone else.

I do believe that for the most part social media platforms are doing a pretty good job at accommodating users with sufficient privacy policies, but there is still a long ways to go. In the article and in Facebook’s privacy policies, both talk about the data Facebook receives from you and how it is studied to better the site. I think in the future, an improvement to this could be allowing the user to determine what Facebook can or cannot use from his of her site for study in order to give the user complete control. However, Jayson does argue a very important point that we all need to consider. But for now I think that as long as you are smart about what you post online you won’t fall into any bad situations.

USA Today Article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/08/data-online-behavior-research/5781447/