Social Media Privacy






Social Media Privacy: Essay Proposal

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Social Media Privacy: Essay Proposal

As there is a boost in development of modern technologies, one can notice inconsistency between implementation and reflection. This gap is especially visible in social networking, which has captured the mind and the time of people in a recent decade. While new reality is already with us on a daily basis, there has been little chance to consider potential dangers and moral issues before they actually became part of this reality. Privacy is, probably, one of the most crucial issues in this respect, and it is even more concerning because technologies tend to be developed before the actual legal and cultural grounding appears.

The two articles under analysis consider the issue of social media privacy from different perspectives pointing out several aspects that shape attitudes and dangers. Shannon Vallor in "Social Networking and Ethics" gives a profound overview of what social networking is in its core nature, how it shapes the way people communicate, and what ethical concerns arise in the meantime. The article is quite structured in its approach as it has several sections, each of which focuses on an individual moral issue. It also covers the main stages of social networks development as it describes it as evolutionary process with the prospect of cultural, legal, and ethical maturity, which is still open to question so far. The author treats the issue of privacy in philosophical and legal dimensions, and covers the main points of view. In it turn, Bevers article published in The Guardian, has more practical discussion of the issue based on her own experience with Facebook and other social networks. She distinguishes between voluntary sharing of personal information and delegation of control to others, which often happens when our network contacts get access to some information about us such as our location and movement. Thus, the author claims that it is ones own responsibility to maintain ones privacy, which we so eagerly break by our own hands.

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Thus, when discussing the issue of privacy in social media, it should be noted that it is quite complex and includes several dimensions. First of all, it is impossible to discuss the ethical aspect of privacy while there is no consensus about what exactly the concept means and hence, where the violation of the regulations occurs. Thus, Vallor points out that there is controversy about the concept:

Standing philosophical debates about whether privacy should be defined in terms of control over information (Elgesem 1996) , restricting access to information (Tavani 2007 ) or contextual integrity (Nissenbaum 2004 ) must now be re-examined in the light of the privacy practices of Facebook and other SNS.

One of the most discussed moral concerns is transfer of private information about the users to third parties for commercial purpose. It is not a secret that social networks thrive on this very business of selling personal data, which users voluntarily provide. However, the ethical problem is how much aware people are of giving away their personal information; and to what extent this can be regulated. It is obvious that the legal component often lags behind while new ways of extracting data from users emerge as a result of commercial activities of social media. A perfect example of this is the boost of social media applications, which are far more aggressive in collecting and sharing peoples information than more traditional tools of social networks. In many cases, these applications may have the nature of viruses which pull out data and automatically share them or invite all virtual friends to join the application on behalf of a person. Yet, use of information for commercial purposes is a more global concern, around which a heated debate is held: many users have yet to fully process the potential for conflict between their personal motivations for using SNS and the profit-driven motivations of the corporations that possess their data. In this respect, it should be noted that legal measures have to be taken in order to restrict invasion into peoples privacy without their permission. On the other hand, people often are not aware of what options they have and what risks they take. Thus, warning about these issues discreetly is one of the moral obligations that social media should have toward their users.

However, as Bevers article suggests, this is, yet, one of the perspectives that the issue of privacy can have. While imposing responsibility on corporations and urging them to protect us from invasion, we forget that each person is in charge of their own safety. She claims that most of us pay little attention to what information we give away or who we give it to (Bever). It looks especially explicit in case with so-called check in sites and applications like Foursquare. People tend to close the eyes to the fact that letting the whole network track their location deals with their own ignorance about safe behavior and privacy. At this background, it is easy to miss small amendments that social media can adopt to grant even more rights to collect and share information.

Overall, it is obvious that, at least, two aspects should be borne in mind when dealing with the ethical issues of privacy and social media. On the one hand, public opinion should be more assertive in order to urge corporations and authorities meet the needs of information safety by legal measures and control over privacy. On the other hand, however, a cultural shift is needed which would make people differentiate between openness and violation of privacy including their own right for it.


Bever, L. (2013). We want privacy from the government, but we're an open book on social media. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Vallor, S. (2012). Social networking and ethics. In E. N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2012 ed.). Retrieved from

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