By Amanda Boyko
To help illustrate social media’s impact on our privacy, I’ll be using an anecdote based on real events that occurred in a certain person’s past… for the purposes of this post I’ll refer to this person as Amy.
Once upon a time, Amy was a naïve 14 year old with a Facebook page. She mainly posted things related to cute baby animals, her latest pillow fort designs, and how much she appreciated Froot Loops in all of their sugary glory.
In a bout of adolescent rebellion, she along with two friends got their hands on a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and spent a night gallivanting around their neighborhood, snapping detailed photos of their underage-drinking venture, having a grand ol’ time. Oblivious to any consequences that could’ve arisen, they proceeded to post the photos to Facebook.
After a few days of excessive attention from her junior high peers reacting to this blatant display of badassery, Amy came home one afternoon to every photo from that night developed and spread out on her kitchen table, with two very angry and shocked parents hovering over them. Someone had gotten the photos from Amy’s Facebook page, and gathered enough information to anonymously mail the photos to her parents’ home address along with a note stating, “I just thought you should know what your daughter’s been up to.”
Needless to say, Amy and her friends suffered the consequences of their ignorance and misconduct, and they very quickly realized the power that social media gives people: for users to connect and share their experiences with an entire community, and to collect information about one another for whatever purposes they wish.
At the time of Amy’s unfortunate experience with social media, Facebook had only been around for about three years, and most people (especially in younger demographics) were just discovering its power, and still are.
Social Media sites like Facebook have given rise to a wide variety of privacy and security issues for their members such as identity theft, stalking, phishing, and personal information leakage.
In an attempt to combat this, Facebook is constantly revamping their security and privacy settings, adding new features to boost the safety of users’ information:
Despite such advancements in security, users can realistically never fully trust the audiences they’ve chosen to share things with, and with the Internet being so vast and encompassing, there will always be someone able to infiltrate the protective walls social media sites have put up. There’s really no way of knowing exactly what information we as social media users have released into cyberspace… information that, in this digital age, can virtually always resurface.
Moral of the story: don’t be like Amy.
Hasib, A. A. (2009). Threats of online social networks. International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security, 9 (11), 290-292. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.529.6713&rep=rep1&type=pdf