With the advent of social media, people’s lives are now being lived online. This has led to a number of privacy issues arising. People have information online that they may want some people to see but not others. Many social networking sites now available allow people to share their lives.
In the example of Facebook, people are able to share their information with other people. Facebook has privacy settings that allow users to choose who they want their audience to be. However, there are some things that the individual user is not able to control. For example, a person has no control of the advertisements that appear when other people visit their page. This can lead to people forming an opinion on someone based on the advertisements they see. In addition, “Facebook annoyed some of its users with Beacon, a service that tracked their off-site purchases and informed their friends” (Dyson, 1). For example, I may like a page but I would not want visitors to my page to know that I like the page. However, when they visit my page, they will find the page suggested for them. The user should have control of such information and not just what they post. Facebook should make it possible for users to control such information by including a tool that allows the user to configure the advertisements that appear on their wall. Ideally, the default privacy setting should be set as private. From here, users should be able to select the information that others can view on their page. Another such problem is the ability for a person to search for a person online. By simply doing a Google search of someone’s name, results for social media appear. Facebook should enable a user to choose whether their information should be available on searches outside the network. These two problems show that the user of a social network is not in total control of their information available to others. A solution to this problem is possible if the social networking site has a tool that allows a user to select whether they want to be visible on external searches.
In my opinion, Dyson has emphasized this issue enough. She has highlighted the problem that such advertisements may cause and has given a solution to solve the same. In her article, she has highlighted that it is not what she sees on her page that is important but what others see on her page that is important. What this basically means is that a person’s online personality is what others see of them. This is an important factor in many cases. For example, a prospective boss can view a person’s online presence in a bid to try and figure out their personality. This can lead to problems if a person has no control of what others can see of them. This can give a false impression of the person. Dyson has given a solution to this problem. She says that although people cannot control what others say about them, they will flock to a networking site that allows users to present themselves the way they want. Such a site would also allow the user to select the people they want to see this presentation. What other people say about that information will be inconsequential to the user as they will have presented the information the way they want. Ideally, a user should be able to control the advertisements and pop-ups that other users see when they visit their home page.
Dyson Ester Reflections on privacy 2.0. Scientific American 10/2008; 299(3):50-5