Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Social Media provides more gaps between parents and teens

"Social media has introduced a new dimension to the well-worn fights over private space and personal expression."

Have you ever hide part of your school life as secrets from your parents through social media? Shared with your friends that you played a trick with your teacher in high school but hide it from your parents? Well, after the birth of social media, teens gradually share less with their parents. Even stay at home, we would not talk about our real life with our parents but chat with our friends through the Internet.

This phenomenon is related to the purpose of social media. As it showed up in our lives, social media become a perfect tool to improve the relationship between friends. People can not only chat in real life face to face but also chat online at any point. Meanwhile, social media also aggravate the tense relationship between parents and teens. Before the era of social media, parents worry about what teens had done outside and tried to talk with them when they back home. Teens enjoyed their time outside and had to face their parents' question and chatter. However, through the social media, teens could bring their social life and resistance to parents back home. They could lock themselves in their bedrooms and still chat or post with their phones and laptops. It's much harder for parents to try to learn about their children's social lives.

Definitely, teens are happy with this change. They have more rooms and freedom now. They could hide their secrets from their parents by simply finishing a privacy setting. At the same time, the gaps between teens and parents become larger and larger. Parents could no longer know what teens want to hide and start to worry more. With almost a blank impression about what their children have posted on Facebook or Instagram, as well as what their children have said to their friends, parents will imagine possible bad manners that kids may be accustomed to. Those imaginations then become new gaps that teens won't talk to their parents about but parents keeping worrying.

 

The Ethics of Invading Privacy

"For example, even when two people happen to be sitting across from each other on the subway, social norms dictate that they should not stare at each other or insert themselves into the other’s conversations. Of course, people still do these things, but they also feel a social responsibility to avert their eyes and pretend that they cannot hear the conversation taking place. What’s at stake is not whether someone can listen in but whether one should"

 

I found this quote interesting because it was reminiscent of the discussion we had in class of using locks as a social cue for security. In danah boyd's book It's Complicated, she tries to highlight the distinction between the ability to violate privacy and consciously doing so. Given the degree of entanglement of our social lives and the internet, violating privacy is extremely easy. While taking steps to strengthen your privacy can be helpful, it is often futile either because it is difficult to implement effectively or because someone actively seeking to override your privacy could probably succeed by putting in enough effort. In such cases, it is better to define what is right or wrong and not keep much faith in the efficacy of privacy.

In her book, boyd gives the example of Christopher, a fifteen year old teenager who gave his social media passwords to his parents, trusting them not to violate his privacy. I feel this is somewhat the middle ground which finds a balance between what adults want and what teenagers desire. If we ignore intensive parenting for the moment, parents want their children to be safe and not be doing anything wrong, and teenagers want to be able to regulate which part of their lives their parents should see. By trusting them their your password,  teenagers can inspire confidence in their parents that they are not doing something unlawful while parents can feel like they have the means to protect their child. Additionally, giving access to parents breaks the false notion they hold that privacy is associated with wrongdoing.

Communicating in Plain Sight

One passage from It's Complicated by danah boyd that caught my attention was, "Many teens are happy to publicly perform their social dramas for their classmates and acquaintances, provided that only those in the know will actually understand what’s really going on and those who shouldn’t be involved are socially isolated from knowing what’s unfolding. These teens know that adults might be present, but they also feel that, if asked, they could create a convincing alternate interpretation of what was being discussed."

This passage illustrates the concept of social steganography, a strategy that teens often use to privately communicate.  What I find interesting is that I have always been aware of the existence of this technique, even used it myself, but I had never realized that it was a form of steganography.  Now, it seems quite obvious.  When someone posts an "inside joke" or uses vague or special language that means something to a particular group but appears meaningless to everyone else, they are basically hiding a message in plain sight.  Anyone with access to their online profile could see what they are putting out there, but only a specific target audience would understand what they are really communicating.  Clearly, steganography has a much larger presence in everyday life than I previously thought.

As boyd explains, many adults often criticize teens for posting information publicly while also caring so much about their privacy.  They see these things as acting against each other, but what they don't realize is that teens are very careful in deciding what they expose to the public.  By using strategies such as social steganography, it is possible to have an easily accessible online presence while simultaneously maintaining control over who you share sensitive information with.

Privacy of the Teens in Social Media

Teens are increasingly sharing personal information on social media sites, a trend that is likely driven by the evolution of the platforms teens use as well as changing norms around sharing.

While there is now increasing awareness of and hence established defense protocols to protect against overt dangers of social media such as bullying and trolling, the silent perils of social media for youngsters remain to be tackled. These include hacking by inimical elements and phishing. Setting parent controls parental control on computers and websites is very effective for younger children, but it gets dicey with teens because such controls can be perceived as stifling for the youngster.

The severe inconsistency in the perception of privacy awareness among teens is not surprising – the concept of “privacy-paradox” has been the building block of the panoptic web of social media that provides “constant view of individuals through mechanisms that influence behavior simply because of the possibility of being observed” It is believed that teens worry more about social privacy than the privacy risks posed by third parties, in contrast to the reverse penchant for an adult.

I like the sentence in the material is that: "Teens often grow frustrated with adult assumptions that suggest that they are part of a generation that has eschewed privacy in order to participate in social media."

Striving for Privacy

In danah boyd's book, It's Complicated, one quote that stood out to me was when she stated, "for teens that I interviewed, privacy isn’t necessarily something that they have; rather it is something they are actively and continuously trying to achieve in spite of structural or social barriers that make it difficult to do so."

This quote resonated with me because throughout the semester, we have discussed and debated the topic of privacy versus security. In every instance, we looked at a specific example, or fictional scenario like in the case of Little Brother. However, I cannot recall a time that privacy has been looked at from the perspective of the innate state it exists; from the second we are born to the second we die, we are surveilled to a certain degree.

For better or worse, parents are there from the very beginning teaching right from wrong. When one reaches schooling age, it becomes the school, then, eventually an employer. Throughout the duration of human life, someone is always there to answer to. Therefore, achieving privacy becomes something that actually must be strived for if there is any hope of gaining it. It is not impossible, but it's complicated.

After coming to this conclusion, I began to imagine the best way that some level of privacy could be achieved, and I could only land on one answer: power. Which is ironic because in each instance those in power are the ones doing the surveillance - it becomes a pyramid. Sure enough, boyd laid out three methods that can be used to achieve this autonomy and find some degree of privacy with the first stating, "people must have a certain degree of agency or power within a social situation." Yet, we must ask ourselves is those in power truly have privacy? Whose family do you know more about... the Kardashians or someone you call a friend? While power may bring one closest to privacy, I do not think there is a way to achieve ultimate privacy.

I do not have an answer for privacy, and I am not arguing that all forms of it are evil. I just find it interesting that through boyd's interviews, it can be seen that privacy has become a construct of society that we strive for but can almost never have.

All Eyes on Us

"Although teens grapple with managing their identity and navigating
youth-centric communities while simultaneously maintaining
spaces for intimacy, they do so under the spotlight of a media ecosystem
designed to publicize every teen fad, moral panic, and new hyped
technology"

Who dictates how long mistakes last? Do they linger for a few embarrassing weeks or days until gradually fading from the memories and interest of our stimulation seeking brains? Or are they held up for the world to see, for as long as the internet exists? Our parents and generations before did not necessarily have to worry about the latter happening, because their social lives did not revolve around sharing details, pictures, or videos of themselves for friends and the public alike to see. You did something regrettable, embarrassed yourself and eventually it would most likely not be brought up again. The reality of the modern teen or young adult is much different.

I am not arguing that people should not be held accountable for mistakes, rather I present the idea that there is a looming cloud that shrouds my generation. Someone is always watching, recording, or listening. A certain pressure descends upon teenagers in social situations. That does not excuse us from making dumb decisions but rather increases the likelihood that those mistakes will prevent opportunities in the future.

Say someone takes a video or a picture that you do not want spread, but that picture is instead posted to a certain social media site. Once it is shared, there not much anyone can do to completely erase that picture. You are now a permanent fixture on someone's page. This is exactly the point where teens try to make the point that they do value privacy and security. Just because teens share information about themselves on the internet, does not mean they have requested a book with everything they've every said or done written about them.

So, in a society as interconnected as ours is today, how do we deal with the proposition of privacy? Delete all of our social media accounts? Possibly, but extremely unlikely for the majority. I am not quite so sure myself wether there is a solution to this issue. Maybe these are just new times, a new reality where everyone's private life, becomes that bit more public.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Transparency

“In his book Discipline and Punish, philosopher Michel Foucault describes how surveillance operates as a mechanism of control. When inmates believe they are being watched, they conform to what they believe to be the norms of the prison and the expectations of their jailors. Surveillance is a mechanism by which powerful entities assert their power over less powerful individuals.”

In this blog post, I will be responding to the post made by Xinyi about this same quotation that I have provided above. Her claim in her blog post is that people behave differently knowing that they are being watched and could be caught doing something at any moment. She also discusses the idea of the panopticon, and how it violates the fundamental right to privacy. I think that her argument makes a lot of sense, but I disagree with certain parts of it. People know that when they post things on social media, they are more permanent. There is, however, a kind of paradox with this. On one hand, people are more uncivil online because they feel removed from the people they are talking to. On the other hand, there are more repercussions to comments made online, and without this balancing factor created by the lack of privacy, social media may be more toxic than it already is.

Although I believe that social media creates an accountability that doesn't exist when people talk in person, I do agree with the point that Xinyi made that social media makes people not be their true selves. She makes the point that people online only post the best parts of their lives, and they leave out the struggles many times. People viewing these post misinterpret the context of these posts, and may not get the full picture of who someone is. They may form preconceived notions about people they barely know, and this is an issue with the lack of privacy that social media creates.

In Public but Unpublic

In It's Complicated, boyd wrote: "there's  a big difference between being in public and being public... mere participation in social media can blur these two dynamics."

I especially like the author's analogy between a subway conversation and a social media post online. While both contents are in public, neither is being public. A subway conversation, while audible to those around, is meant to be private. Likewise, while a social media post is visible to all, it's meant to be private as well, or at least exclusively shared between only a few. While teenagers seem to understand and practice the concept almost unintentionally, adults struggle to grasp the ideology behind their actions.

Once social media emerged, it has become unstoppable. Teenagers, a generation facing the rise of such communication, face particular challenges in terms of personal privacy and social interactions. Humans share the need to be in public, be a part of a social group or a community. It's hard to maintain offline when interactions are occurring online. And the mere concept of social media - the ideology of a more open and interactive space - is blurring the line between what's accessible and what's private.

In traditional senses, inaccessibility equals privacy. If a diary is locked, parents would know its content is intended to be kept private. However, the same kind of physical lock has disappeared in the age of social media. Teenagers are relying on social conventions to lock their online presence, while parents are failing to follow such invisible rules.

The public-by-default mindset of social media makes it harder for teenagers to navigate their privacy. Because the social environment is so different online, it's easy to think that it has completely different rules when it comes to maintaining privacy. For instance, while almost no one would choose to broadcast a conversation in public, many would post such conversations online. Personally, I believe it might be due in part to the illusion-like nature of social media. While we know the content we post online are visible to virtually everyone, it doesn't feel like we have a full house of audience. The concept of everyone is different in social media from its traditional meaning.

The expression of privacy has changed; yet its core meaning and challenges haven't changed.

Social Media as Proof Surveillance Affects Behaviour

“In his book Discipline and Punish, philosopher Michel Foucault describes how surveillance operates as a mechanism of control. When inmates believe they are being watched, they conform to what they believe to be the norms of the prison and the expectations of their jailors. Surveillance is a mechanism by which powerful entities assert their power over less powerful individuals.”

This quote well summarizes the effects of surveillance we have studied and discussed in class. People act differently when they are surveilled and it is for that reason people need privacy and privacy is a human right. This idea is illustrated in the podcast about Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon. The Panopticon is circular jail building with a watchman in the center who cannot watch all prisoners at once so the inmates are not able to tell when they are being watched. Therefore, the prisoners behave as though they are being watched. I think this effect of surveillance affects teens’ use of social media today. When using social media sites, such as Facebook, teens accept that they can be surveilled and thus they act accordingly. For example, our parents advise us not to post pictures on social media that we would not want our potential employers to see.

The result of a difference in behavior when being surveilled means online activity does not always reflect our genuine selves to the degree human interaction can. Knowing that they are being surveilled, many teens tend to post the best parts of their lives. When looking at a teen’s Instagram profile, it tends to look like a carefully curated highlight reel. This is more evidence that we act differently with surveillance. It is ironic that social media is a means to connect people but at the same time, it distances people because we do not portray our most genuine selves as we do with human interaction.

1 Comment

Page 1 of 80

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén