Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: privacy (Page 1 of 9)

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

The other day in class, I asked you to respond to this short, terrible play:

  • Teen: “If my dad monitored my Instagram, that would mean he doesn’t trust me.”
  • Dad: “If you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?”

First, I asked you to role play the teenager. How might you respond to the dad? Here's a capture of what you suggested.

Then, I asked you to role play the parent. Why might a parent want to monitor their teenager's social media use? We broke out the Post-it notes for this.

You did a great job exploring a position that most of you (it seemed) did not initially agree with. Keep this in mind when you're writing argumentative essays in the future. To make a compelling case, you have to take the other side’s perspective seriously, understand it, and respond to it.

Alicia's Definition

‘I just think it’s different. . . . I think privacy is more just you choosing what you want to keep to yourself’ says seventeen-year-old Alicia.

Now I have heard many scholars and experts try to pin a definition on privacy, but this, by far, is the best one in my opinion. Without trying to explain too much, Alicia captures the take that many people, both adults and teens, have on privacy in the context of social media.

If you choose to share something about yourself on social media, it does not necessarily mean that you do not care about privacy itself. It just might mean that whatever you shared is not worth the effort to keep private.

Because this ‘new’ definition is by a seventeen-year-old girl, many older folks (mainly parents) might not agree with it, but many of them might be surprised to find out that it is not so new. In fact, it is the same form of privacy that they grew up with.

Social media may have been non-existent, but thought process people used back then was the same: Share whatever you do not care about, and keep what you do care about to yourself. It has always been that simple (at least in modern history) and still is.

If that is the case, then maybe parents should think about lightening up and trusting Alicia as well as the rest of us teenagers.

The Debate of Privacy Among Different Generations

"Teens will regularly share things widely on Facebook simply because they see no reason to make the effort to make those pieces of content private" (Boyd 62).

In Chapter 2 in Boyd's novel, I find this quote to be very relatable. While I do not consider myself an active poster on Facebook, this applies to other social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat. When attempting to explain the concept of these new apps to my mother, who is technologically challenged, she often rebuttals with Boyd's common perspective of parents viewing these posts as irrelevant and even sometimes as a violation of my privacy. While I am not doing anything wrong, it is just the competition of mindsets of different generations. For example, when considering to post a happy birthday post on Facebook or tagging my friends in memes, I could send it by text or I could even copy the link of the meme and send it through more private means. However, it just does not seem necessary to go through the extra steps when it does not matter whether others will see this post. Just because I don't find this particularly necessary to send privately, does not mean I do not care about my privacy rights. In this regard, matters I truly want to keep private I ensure are not posted on any social media. On another note, Boyd references a student that erases her daily usage on Facebook to prevent people from using her previous comments against her later on. I disagree with this because I think while comments can be trivial, one should always consider the implications of their posts and, therefore, if they do not want to accept the consequences for their possible posts, they should not be using social media.

Privacy Through Effort

In It's Complicated, by Danah Boyd, she discusses the complicated situations teens face with social media. A big topic of discussion is privacy: "The default in most interpersonal conversations, even those that take place in public settings, is that interactions are private by default, public through effort...  In other words, when participating in networked publics, many participants embrace a widespread public-by-default, private-through-effort mentality" (Boyd). It is said that a verbal conversation (in person) is a private act, that is only public when made to be. On the other hand, an interaction on the internet is public, an only made private when made to be. This statement catches my attention because it focuses on social norms in reality versus expectations of the internet. In real life, people are expected not to ease drop one another, intrude on conversations, or not interact unless brought into the conversation. On the internet, however, all of these expectations become void, as the internet is a public place. A person has to go through special care to make sure something is private, rather than assume that others are not paying attention. It makes you think, are your conversations private at all? Probably not. Just because it is not considered socially acceptable to listen in on a conversation does not mean people do not do it. Privacy of your affairs should never be expected, but rather always assumed to be public by default. It is in our nature to be curious, and at times that leads us to be intrusive. It is never safe to assume that something is private, especially just because it is socially expected to be. The only fool proof way to achieve privacy is through effort

Mutual Trust is Key

In her book, It’s Complicated, Danah Boyd essentially sums up the problem of privacy on social media in a single sentence: “What’s at stake is not whether someone can listen in but whether one should” (Boyd, 58). Some will claim that since teenagers overshare on social media, they forfeit their privacy because they post everything to the world. But public expression does not necessarily equate to the rejection of privacy. For many teenagers, social media is a platform for self-expression and growth. Should adults, particularly those in authoritative positions such as parents and teachers, invade these spaces, teenagers will not be able to express themselves in the same way.

When I got my first social media account, my mom and I had a deal. I would give her my password and in return she would not use it unless I gave her a reason to. It was all about trust. I trusted my mom not to regularly spy on my Instagram account, and she trusted me not to post anything inappropriate. If I had found her logged into my Instagram on a random day for no apparent reason, I would have been offended. To me, that would signify that she didn’t trust me. Going back to Boyd’s statement, it wouldn’t have been a matter of whether my mom could access my Instagram, but whether she should. Unless she had a solid reason to suspect that my posts were inappropriate, logging on to my Instagram would be a violation of trust.

Parents will argue that they have to monitor their children’s online activity in order to protect them. Our society confirms this argument often, going so far as to imply that parents who don’t monitor their children’s online activity are “bad parents.” However, often children aren’t actually doing anything that should be a cause of concern to parents, and moreover, the parents are effectively disassembling any mutual trust that existed between them and their children.

Worry is a misuse of your imagination

“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.”

I would agree that there definitely is a social pressure to “post nice pictures” on Instagram or Facebook or VSCO because there’s a recurring saying among users that if you didn’t take a picture and post it on Instagram, then were you really there?

But also I agree that the generation of parents fret too much over us being peer pressured into doing something that we don’t want to. That just isn’t always the case, because it’s up to that teenager to decide whether other people will dictate her feelings and the social pressure she puts on herself or just completely disregard the impact of social media and be carefree of it. People nowadays have more respect for exactly that—not caring how many “likes” a picture gets, but posting a picture plainly for the memory or to share what’s going on in their life. Sure, the pressure of being validated by the amount of likes you get will always be present because validation of existence and purpose I would argue is one of the basic needs of human life in the 21st century, but I think we can all agree that we can control ourselves mentally to not let that define our existence. If not, then that says a lot about how easily people can be manipulated today.

I think the reality is that teenagers are briefed so many times on the whole “keep your private information PRIVATE and everything posted online will stay there forever” shebang that there’s already a common sentiment that teenagers actually do want privacy. The stories about teenagers posting an indecent post that received much disdain and dislike that resulted in her/him being socially shunned that people are scared into are probably exaggerated and skewed to sound like it’s worse than it actually is. I’m sure that we’ve all posted something (not even risqué) that we look back on two years later and go “yikes.” But the whole mental game plays with your mind to make it seem like that post attracted a lot more negative attention towards your social standing than it actually did. And that’s the trap of social media and why parents have such a misunderstanding of how teenagers really understand use and sharing of private information on social media.

Technological Revolution of Teenage Privacy

“Every teenager wants privacy. Every single last one of them, whether they tell you or not, wants privacy.” - Waffle

I strongly agree with this statement for a multitude of reasons. One of the main reasons I agree with it is because I used to be like Waffle; Playing video games behind another personality and rarely interacting with the outside world. Also I am a very open person when it comes to my business but not when it comes to my memories or my personality. I strongly believe other people are like this as well. Though teenagers dress boldly and express themselves online while exposing themselves to the outside world there is still a lot or SOMETHING that they are unwilling to share with the world. The text mentions a quote talking about shame and how teenagers now a days have no shame. I disagree with this, I think that shame for teenagers not only is different from adults definition but it has also changed over time due to technology and social changes. With the ability for the world to know what you look like, added to the social tendencies of teenagers, it is logical to assume that teenagers will post scandalous things on social media. This includes pictures, drama, trends and more. From my perspective and from the people that I have asked around me, teenagers are sensitive when it comes to talking about their feelings or their "odd" opinion on something. Many teenagers want their feeling to remain hidden, even if they dress provocatively and have their drama on social media. This can be called the Technological Revolution of Teenage Privacy.

The Spectrum of Privacy

"Privacy is not a static construct. It is not an inherent property of any particular information or setting. It is a process by which people seek to have control over a social situation by managing impressions, information ows, and context."

In other words, privacy is what you make it. There is not a definite definition and it is varies from person to person. I think that everyone perceives privacy differently and that in someways it is a spectrum. While some adults struggle to understand how teens can demand privacy while maintaining a social media presence, it is completely feasible and possible for teens to do so. Privacy isn't synonymous with being off the grid and anti-social and it shouldn't be. I think, especially in the 21st century, there is an expectation that everyone has a social media presence and there still exists the expectation to keep somethings private. It all depends on what each person is comfortable with. Some teens are comfortable with sharing every aspect of their life on a public account while others control their social situations by maintaining a private account that only a select few can see. It all depends on the range in which someone is comfortable with sharing personal information about their lives. For instance, it lately has become a trend that many teens will have "rinstas" or real Instagram accounts where they may share less personal, general posts and "finstas" or fake accounts which usually are private and only followed by close friends. Finstas give teens the opportunity to be more open about their lives and many people use it has a place to post rants and more personal information, all while controlling more specifically who can see what they post.

I personally think that there is this connotation that if you have a social media presence, you must be comfortable sharing anything. That is not the case, I think when posting something online most teens put it through their own personal filter, their own definition of privacy. This filter questions whether something upholds the image they want to maintain and does it give followers a look into their life without revealing too much. This is the modern way that teens interpret privacy and seek more control over the social situations and expectations.

Becoming public to become private

“Much to her frustration, she finds that sharing at least a little bit affords her more privacy than sharing nothing at all.” (p. 74) This statement by Taylor, in Boyd’s book It’s Complicated is a true reflection of the world we live in. We live in the 21st century and due to ever-advancing technology, it has become easier and easier to exchange information. This information age that we live has meant that sharing information has become the norm and any deviation from this norm sticks out like a sore thumb -- or as Dr. Bruff would call it, a lead-lined coffin. So, when anyone, like Taylor, chooses not to share they immediately draw attention – the exact opposite of the what they were trying to achieve in the first place.

Boyd says that the thought process of Taylor as well as many other teens of “focusing on what to keep private rather than what to publicize” (p.77) is a difficult concept for adults to grasp. Boyd seems there are only two groups of people in this battle of privacy, parents and teens. The actual groups that Boyd should discuss are those that have been able to adapt to the information age and those who haven’t. While there is a correlation between being an adult and not understanding the above statement, there are many adults who do understand the nuances of privacy today, as we can see from the multitude of adult vloggers that publicize their lives. The reason that Boyd may think that the two distinct groups are teens and adults is because most teens have not known a world other than the information age and so they have been forced into adapting how they keep their lives private. It can also be argued that Boyd does, in fact, know that there are teens who don’t understand privacy in the 21st century as well as adults who do understand it but she just chooses not to in order to make her book more controversial or in order to widen the rift between parents and teens. Whatever the case may be, there is one thing to remember. There are always two groups, those who can adapt to the ever-changing world around them and those who do not, and consequently are left scratching their heads, wondering why things aren’t as good as they were “back in their day” and why the “new generation is the worst generation ever”.

Reference:

Boyd, D. (2015). It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Learning from your pre-teen angst posts

"In other words, when participating in networked publics, many participants embrace a widespread public by default, private through effort mentality." - (boyd 62)

I think this quote sums up the unofficial "terms of agreement" teens subconsciously accept when participating in social media. In the chapter, boyd argues that the amount of effort required to constantly monitor and have control over privacy settings is simply not worth it. I see this constantly when I scroll through Facebook, and it does to some extent irritate me when I see posts such as "hmu I'm bored" because I feel as though it's "clogging" my feed. However, it is important to remember that when friending or following people, you consent to having their content appear in your feed, whether it be something you desire to see or not.

I think the issue that arises from this "public-by-default" mentality is not so much that privacy becomes suspicious, but rather that teens are unaware of all the smaller agreements involved when posting something to the "public". For example, many teens feel frustrated if they have to manually unfriend someone, or clear their posts from years past in a tedious fashion, but they are forgetting that they are the ones who posted it in the first place. Admittedly, it is sometimes embarrassing to come across something you posted because at the time you believed it to be funny or quirky, but now just appears immature. However, I feel that that can serve as a valuable learning moment. While Shamika hiding her posts may save her drama or make it more difficult for antagonists to find evidence, she is losing out on a lesson that most teens must endure, which is learning by experience, in this case the experience being forced to reanalyze content you posted online in the past. Doing so will not only help teens filter their posts more cautiously in the future, but will also allow them to understand how they've matured or changed.

 

 

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