Social Media and Privacy Just Can’t Get Along

We always associate privacy issues with discussions about social media as if they were born together as twins. Actually, they were, and it seems like the differences between them can’t be solved any time soon. Facebook, being the largest social media network on the planet and the third largest country (if it were a country) by population, and Google, the most powerful search engine,  are both getting the biggest chunk of attention regarding privacy issues (the law of nature). They have faced an ample amount of scrutiny from the FTC and other regulatory organizations, emphasizing their influence on a cultural phenomenon, and their accompanying risks.

The most recent battle ground happened in France when the country charged Google and Facebook for overlooking the privacy of their users. This follows the revamp of EU’s 16-year strong regulation, specifically targeting the two giants. Microsoft and Yahoo are also on the watch list. Social media networks are so powerful that it makes users willingly give out their personal information, and let’s face it, it really is quite alarming.

It’s alarming enough to get EU to amend their internet security policies. Moreover, the emergence of new apps is stretching privacy boundaries to the limit. One app in particular is Color, a free location-based mobile app that allows users to capture view the content on other devices which are within close proximity, and then allows other Color users who are within the 15-feet radius to access the photo and video content on another Color user’s phone. It runs on iPhone and Android. It’s creepy.

Another social media issue that caught my attention recently was when a couple of Old Saybrooks student got mad because their Facebook accounts were used in a special internet safety presentation at the high school. Seriously, what did they expect? If you put up your information online, that means you’re willingly submitting those information to the world. If you didn’t want it to be seen, you might as well not display them.

I personally believe that privacy on the internet, as of now, is an illusion, and Mark Zuckerberg could be an overlord working for the CIA (dream come true). And one more thing, once you upload something on the internet, it will always be on the internet. You might have deleted those photos and videos and documents et al., but someone who knows his way around the worldwide web can always find them. It’s always there. Before you decide upload a picture of you doing something weird, think about it more than twice.

On the other hand, there are efforts made in addressing these problems. However, the solution is not limited to Facebook, and it’s likely that Facebook’s never going to completely get rid of its privacy issues, as long as it’s dealing in a consumer-driven market. It takes another website or company to come up with an entirely different idea for sharing (one that is separate from Facebook, Twitter, and other contemporary social media).  An example of this is Flink12. As the name implies, this new website allows you to connect with only 12 of your contacts to ensure that you’re only sharing information with people you know.