Tan Wei Long
Privacy issues arise from globalization
Globalization has brought the world closer together through technological advancements. "A lot of us are driven by technologies. Our computer systems will be as primitive as Apollo, how do we manage the technological change?” said Goldin in this TED talk (2009).
With these technologies’ advancement applied to the global media and communications, social networking websites have been created for purposes such as making social connections. With the advancement, social networking site (SNS) has been invented to bring people closer together. However, the invention also resulted in my issues regarding to privacy issues. Firstly, people were careless and neglected their privacy of their personal information and secondly, there are frauds that are misusing identities that do not belong to them.
According to Reed (2012), “Chinese spies created a fake Facebook account of Chief of U.S. European Command and gained intelligence of many NATO Officials”. This example is one of the most extreme cases that can happen when social media users neglect about their privacy by accepting friend request without caution and uploading sensitive information online. Due to their desire to expand their social network by easily accepting friend requests, personal information can be easily obtained. These users and the networking sites must recognize both SNS frauds and the ease of losing private information as a threat and work hand in hand to tighten up the online security.
The Internet today is different compared to in the past where personal identity was kept secret. Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, the leading force of the online social networking website, once said that “having two identities for yourself is an example of lack of integrity.” People are strongly encouraged to use their real identity on social media. Social networking services allow users to easily expand their social network and to keep in touch with their network with just few clicks. Most social media allow users to create their personal profiles and to post photos, location and updates of themselves. However, if those information were being accessed by frauds, they will be exposed to danger. There is no differentiation between friends, strangers and best friends once the information is uploaded for their online audience to view. Frauds are able to misuse the information for ill purposes (Lee, 2013, p.23). Anyone can create any online profile they want even if the profile doesn’t belong to them. They can easily intrude in another’s life and get their information by creating a “fake account” that belongs to one of the target’s friend.
Next, randomly adding and accepting friend requests are some common phenomenon today. Astoundingly, the majority of the social media users are ready to give up part of their privacy in exchange for being connected (Lee, 2013, p21). As mentioned in the case where a fake Facebook account of the NATO chief supreme commander was used to gain military intelligence, similarly, the worst thing that can happen to others is someone using other people's identity for bad intent. In the Internet era, the “need-to-know” maxim is no longer respected for personal privacy. There are websites such as Intelius that are selling personal information online (Lee, 2013, p67). As discussed above, the majority of the users were willing to give up some privacy for being connected. They might overlook the existing threat of people posing as them on social media sites, which might lead to consequences that they can never imagine.
Social networking sites should play their part as the creator to address the issue on tedious privacy settings. Creating an easier user interface for privacy settings such as pre-sets for different scales of privacy will help users who are not tech-savvy to adequately protect themselves from external harm. However, this is not the case. "Keeping your Facebook info private is getting harder and harder all the time—mostly because Facebook keeps trying to make it public" (Gordon, 2013). Luckily, the website 'LifeHacker' has been creating comprehensive guides for users in protecting privacy on Facebook. On the other end, there is a need to increase awareness of SNS users regarding such issues. SNS can create campaign regularly firstly to educated the younger generation that were born into the digital society and secondly to deter frauds from such actions.
In conclusion, as long as people are vigilant and sensitive about accepting friend requests, playing a part in protecting themselves with the aid of the networking working sites providing a more user-friendly privacy setting and helpful campaigns problems discussed can be mitigated. Users can continue to have their life posted for sharing or digitizing purposes but never should forget to have adequate privacy settings for information they don’t want to share. As what the old saying says, “Prevention is better than cure”. Uploading and downloading of information are almost immediate but once published, you can’t retract it.
Goldin, I. (2009). Navigating our global future. Oxford: TED.
Gordon, Whitson. "The Always Up-to-Date Guide to Managing Your Facebook Privacy." Lifehacker. N.p., 1 Mar. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://lifehacker.com/5813990/the-always-up-to-date-guide-to-managing-your-facebook-privacy>.
John, Reed. "Chinese Spies Use Fake Facebook Pages to Gain Intel." Defense Tech RSS. N.p., 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2014. <http://defensetech.org/2012/03/12/chinese-spies-use-fake-facebook-pages-to-gain-intel/>.
Lee, Newton. Facebook nation total information awareness. New York, NY: Springer, 2013. Print.