Cryptography

The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: social media (Page 1 of 2)

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.

The Danger of Old Social Media Posts

"In DC, I met an African American seventeen-year-old named Shamika who found that her peers loved to use old status updates and point to them in a new context in order to “start drama.” She found this infuriating because the posts that she wrote a month ear- lier were never intended as fodder for current arguments."

During my reading of it's complicated, this quote particularly caught my attention, due to how many real life examples of this occurring in the real world exist. For instance, a few weeks ago ESPN started a new show called Barstool Van Talk which featured two bloggers about that day's events in sports. However, after the first episode aired, old tweets began to surface of hurtful tweets sent by the owner of the company, Barstool Sports. As a result, ESPN canceled the TV show and even completely amended their internal social media policy. However, this points to a larger issue which is that the distinction between what is socially acceptable and what is not socially acceptable changes on a daily basis. While that is most likely a good thing, as we become more tolerant of others and more respectful of their beliefs, that creates a unique predicament with old social media posts that were once considered "socially acceptable" but now are deemed unacceptable. It's one thing if someone tweets about something that can be construed as offensive in this time, but how do we handle older posts, often six or seven years old that are instigatory. For me, this causes me to take a closer look at the costs and benefits of posting on social media at all. I rarely tweet at all, and if I do it is simple commentary on sports. I worry that something I say because I am feeling a certain way at one point in time could be used against me in a job interview or something in the future. Perhaps I am too niëve  and I have nothing to be worried about. But maybe I do.

Even yesterday in a group chat with many of my friends, people began to post embarrassing photos from many years ago on Instagram. While none of these photos were offensive or anything like that, it obviously hurt the person whose photo was being  poked fun at. While there is no definitive answer to the age old question of whether social media is "good" or "bad" this certainly adds another wrinkle when thinking about dangers of social media.

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.

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.

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.

New Type of Privacy

"I just think that [technology is] redefining what’s acceptable for people to put out about themselves. I’ve grown up with technology so I don’t know how it was before this boom of social networking. But it just seems like instead of spending all of our time talking to other individual people and sharing things that would seem private we just spend all of our time putting it in one module of communication where people can go and access it if they want to. It’s just more convenient." This was said by Alicia in Boyd's study. She believes that just because we post stuff on social media does not mean teens dislike privacy. Instead of having to talk for hours on end about our lives we post what we want online and can reminisce about it later. It is also said that adults find social media to be an oxymoron to teens wanting privacy but I believe that it is not. What is posted on instagram or facebook is chosen by the person. They decide what parts of their lives they want private. The idea of privacy changes with every generation. Today, we believe that privacy is choosing what we don't want to share. I agree with this idea. Just because I want to post a picture of me and my friends having fun on the lake or at dinner does not mean I want to share my entire life with the world. Instead I am saying that those are moments that I am ok with people knowing about. They do not know what was said during those moments or anything that occurred before or after. Just small snippets of my life that give nothing close to the big story.

What Do I Have to Hide?

By focusing on what to keep private rather than what to publicize, teens often inadvertently play into another common rhetorical crutch - the notion that privacy is only necessary for those who have something to hide (boyd, 63).

When social media first began to crop up in my household, my parents weren't sure how to react. With crude interfaces such as Myspace, my parents banned their use completely (thought this was a much more relevant issue to my older sister than it was for me). However with the upswing of social media sights such as Facebook and LinkedIn, sights my parents could use and were therefore inherently more comfortable with, our family had to have our first conversations about internet safety.

As a kid my parents were very aware of not only everything I posted but also everything my friends were posting. I distinctly remember one post my friend made about being home alone that had my mother rushing to phone her parents. While I was little, this level of online privacy made sense to me. My parents were obviously worried about my safety, and I was not yet rebellious enough to want to defy them just for the sake of being defiant. As I aged, however, my opinions began to deviate from my parents.

There came a point in my online life when I began to believe that my security didn't matter too much: nothing I did was really all that interesting anyways, if someone wanted to read the FanFiction in my internet history they could be my guest. As Facebook privacy updated, I didn't keep up with my account privacy settings, and my wall became increasingly public. I definitely adhered to the ideology that boyd was describing. For the most part, my views have changed again, but to an extent, I still do agree with it.

As I have become more aware of the information that is being sent out online, or rather the information behind the information (such as location services we don't even realize we are posting), I have become increasingly more cautious about what I post and how I post it. Even if I have nothing illegal or secretive to hide, I would still like to keep the location of my house private to the internet. However, instead of changing my online visibility, I simply edited what I post in the first place. I still don't have very strong Facebook security settings, but I make sure that the posts themselves are not revealing any threatening information. The only things I have to hide are those things which affect my safety.

Sharing Is Caring - Or Is it?

In It's Complicated, author danah boyd writes "In a world in which posting updates is common, purposeful, and performative, sharing often allows teens to control a social situation more than simply opting out. It also guarantees that others can’t
define the social situation" (boyd 75). boyd points out that by sharing small snippets of one's life, they can effectively partition off a section of their life to remain private. I never realized this as an alternative to simply opting out of social media, and this solution proves much more useful than staying off the internet.

boyd shares a situation in which a teen girl posted embarrassing photos of herself on her profile. When questioned, the girl pointed out that it was far safer that the photos be posted on her own terms. Since her friends also possessed embarrassing photos, posting them before they had a chance "undermined her friends' ability to define the situation differently" (boyd 75). Not only could she avoid being publicly embarrassed, this gave her an extensive amount of privacy. "Her apparent exhibitionism left plenty of room for people to not focus in on the things that were deeply intimate in her life" (boyd 75).

boyd also draws a comparison to the practice of steganography. By hiding messages in plain sight through "countless linguistic and cultural tools," (boyd 66) teens can avoid surveillance by their parents. This "social steganography" also relates to the previous situation, in regards to the girl posting her photos online. By putting them out there, she draws attention away from her actual personal life, essentially hiding it in plain sight under the veil of her photos.

Overall, boyd notes that "where people share to maintain privacy, they do because they do not want someone to have power over them" (boyd 75). By selectively choosing what to share, people can form pictures of their life that appear true, but actually only define a small portion of their life. This allows people to maintain their privacy in an ever increasingly invasive society. Although I've always desired privacy, I never thought of it concretely as maintaining power over myself. boyd has essentially redefined privacy in a meaningful way that truly captures its essence in today's world.

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Old Man Yells at Cloud

"In her New York Magazine article describing people’s willingness to express themselves publicly, Emily Nussbaum articulated a concern about youth that is widespread: “Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online.”" (pg. 55-56)

As it happens with every generation to the next, adults are constantly criticizing the younger generations and rejecting the advancements that come with them. Popular culture is constantly demonized in a way that can redistribute the blame for modern problems in our society - whether or not they are actually authentic. Regardless of why this is, perhaps because of a reluctance to change and to technology, or because of greater political implications, this attitude will always have real consequences in the ways youth navigate their daily lives. The privacy of teenagers is chronically under an inspective microscope while teenagers are simultaneously under fire for "not respecting privacy": a little hypocritical, isn't it? As the author discusses further into the chapter, what is shared on social media is selectively chosen by the user. And as intuitive as this concept should already be, it seems that people expect "privacy" to be a strict definition and expression for every individual. The value my privacy is not what someone else deems it to be, it is what I deem it to be. What I choose not to share with others - that is my "private" life. And because social media is a powerful medium for teenagers to choose who understands what, who reads what, who sees what, they are able to comfortably navigate the perhaps intricate stratification that exists within the very idea of privacy.

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