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Tag: social media

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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Semantics, Semantics

In It’s Complicated, by danah boyd, the author remarks that “Journalists, parents, and technologists seem to believe that a willingness to share in public spaces—and, most certainly, any act of exhibitionism and publicity—is incompatible with a desire for privacy” (56). This observation comes in the middle of a discussion about social media and the complicated boundaries of online spaces. Is social media participation an automatic abandonment of all privacy? And to what extent should information be regarded as private when in these spaces?

In my opinion, just because people decide to use social media does not mean they are forfeiting their privacy. However, the issue lies mostly in the perception of what “privacy” is, and the disparities between the beliefs of adults and youth. Those who grew up without Facebook or Twitter may think that because the general public is able to access that information whenever they want, that information is not private.

However, except for in the cases of celebrities or wildly popular teenagers, many people do not have that many friends or followers. This means that what they share, they choose to share with the relatively small community of people they have built in that online space, and any unwelcome intrusions from those who feel their information is public is just that: unwanted and resented. In the specific case of boyd’s book, this may be teenagers trying to keep what autonomy they can online. But in the eyes of their parents, because they can see the information, they feel entitled to invade their children’s privacy.

A New Perspective on Privacy

“Instead of signaling the end of privacy as we know it, teens’ engagement with social media highlights the complex interplay between privacy and publicity in the networked world we all live in now.” (boyd, 57)

Growing up in a world full of social media, I’ve become used to the idea of a thousand of my “friends” on Facebook seeing every photo I post. However, whenever I add a new picture or update my status, the vast number of people seeing what I have decided to publish is one of the last thoughts on my mind. I believe that social media has somewhat numbed me to the effects of what I post as the access to my information is instantly shared with those following me on social media, thus giving them complete freedom to use this knowledge however they like.

In boyd’s book It’s Complicated, she addresses the relationship between privacy and social media as teens today continue to make more and more aspects of their lives public. While past generations often lived in complete privacy, teens have become used to sharing most of their lives with the world.

But even though fewer aspects of our lives remain private, this does not mean that the concept of privacy has disappeared altogether. Instead, I believe that what we truly wish to remain private often does, as teens understand the drastic consequences social media often brings. Once a photo or text is shared, the sender automatically surrenders its privacy. Because social media gives people the access to publicize everything at their disposal, teens have therefore adjusted to a new perspective of privacy in which it is often only their most valued information that remains completely confidential.

The Need for Privacy Creates a Facade

In It's Complicated, author danah boyd says, "Issues emerge when teens start to deceive in order to keep the truth private.  But by and large, when teens share to create a sense of privacy, they are simply asserting agency in a social context in which their power is regularly undermined.  The most common way that this unfolds is when teens systematically exclude certain information from what is otherwise a rich story" (75).  Boyd explains that to maintain a certain level of privacy, some teens feel the need to share snippets of their lives on social media, in order to evade questions from their friends.  However, this pressure to share often leads teens hide other, darker parts of their lives.

boyd uses the example of lesbian, gay, or transgender teens who create online profiles that make them appear straight or abused teens who share "extravagant stories" to hide the truth of what is really going on at home.  I was deeply affected by this passage because of an event that occurred last January.  A female distance runner, a girl I had known from high school, committed suicide.  She had been attending the University of Pennsylvania and was a member of the cross country and track teams.  After her death, discussion surrounding her use of social media to hide her pain spread.  Her Instagram account featured photos of her with teammates, smiling and having fun.  Her final post, which was posted just an hour before her death, was a picture of christmas lights in a park.  These photos created an image of a happy college-girl.  Based on her social media posts, one would never be aware of the struggles that she was facing.

The culture surrounding social media in modern day society is one of controversy.  Adults argue that teens are sharing too much, while teens, on the contrary, limit what they post with the hopes of maintaining privacy.  The desire to have privacy leads teens to create a false online persona, skewing the image of their reality.  Sharing the best aspects of one's life has become a social norm.  The pressure to share simultaneously generates the pressure to hide.

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Watch what you post

After reading the article “The 5 biggest online privacy threats of 2013,” you should be aware of how little privacy you have, in case you were not aware of it already. One of the main things you can do, which is also one of the simplest, is to understand that nothing you post or share on the internet is private because someone will be able to get access to it. Therefore you have to be careful about what you share. Aside from just the common sense approach when it comes to the information you can control, we can talk about the regular information that we share with the virtual world without considering the consequences. As mentioned in the article, whenever we share pictures, our location can be tagged to the picture. It is important to be cautious about this because stalking is a serious issue, and if a stalker gets access to your pictures, he/she will be able to track you. This would potentially put you in danger, so you can take precaution by monitoring your settings. This also applies to being careful overall on social media; even if you change your settings hackers can easily access your posts so if you are one who shares every detail about your life, it gives the hackers all the information they would need about you. Overall, you just have to use your common sense to make the right decisions. As long as you are aware of how little privacy you actually have on the internet, you should become more careful about the virtual footprints that you leave.


What Your Account Settings Mean

One of the quintessential tools of all teenagers and college students is Facebook. Although it may be moving out of style, it’s almost a basic necessity to have a Facebook profile (it’s definitely seen as strange if someone tries to look you up and you don’t have a profile). For all we use Facebook, however, many of us hardly ever wonder about how secure our information might be. After all, we have an account and a password and our own customized privacy settings. How much safer could it be?

The answer is: so much safer. According to Christian’s bookmark, before recently Facebook did not have HTTPS support. This means that they used a plain HTTP server, which people with the right tools could easily crack into. Facebook may seem unimportant and doesn’t necessarily contain extremely private information, there are some things on each of our Facebook profile’s that we’d rather not have the entire internet see. Think of all the photos that you store on Facebook, all the posts and comments that might not necessarily meet an employer’s standards of conduct. Think of those pages you liked back when you were in middle school. These are not things that you need the entire world to see.

There are a few ways to protect your information from prying eyes when using Facebook with a plain HTTP. For one thing, you can avoid logging into Facebook using a public Wi-Fi server.  Furthermore, whenever possible you should use an HTTPS servers add on. But most importantly, dig into your account settings page on Facebook as soon as possible. It might take a little work, but it would be worth it to turn on the HTTPS server and keep your information as secure as possible.

Securing Social Media

Although I am not too informed on most measures you can take in ensuring better security online, the major step I always take is limiting the number of electronic devices you log into that requires passwords. This is an easy way all college students can increase their security, especially in terms of social media. The lower the number of computers you log into on Facebook, the better. I have heard and read a number of articles about people hacking into public computers and retrieving data from social media websites. These hackers have had great success thus far and will continue hacking. The major safety step we should all take is to not log in to social media accounts on public computers. For example, the computers at the Commons should be used for printing only, not for typing in credit card information or checking your Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Reading Christian’s article about the HTTPS now being available for Facebook interested me greatly because it has always seemed as places like Facebook had either little or no security at all. Hopefully this new added level of security will cure some of the major problems that have happened concerning hacking over the last few years. Although this might ameliorate the problem most of the time, it is still of everyone’s best interest to keep logging in to accounts on your own personal computer or “smart” phone. The chances of someone stealing your computer and accessing your information are less than a random hacker checking a public computer and gaining access to your information that way. Like always, safety is most important. I feel confident that if college students play it smart by just using their own computer for their social media accounts/bank accounts, they will significantly lower the chance of a much bigger security problem down the road.

Limiting Use of Location Services

Many college students sacrifice a large part of their privacy every day. They download a new app, and when it requests to use their location data, they agree without even thinking about it. While these services can certainly make things more convenient—you can quickly know what restaurants are around you, or find the closest gas station in seconds—using them means that your phone is continuously broadcasting where you are and what you’re doing. Using social networking apps can make this information even more blatantly obvious: by uploading geotagged photos you create a map of your activities and locations that would be fairly easy for someone to access.

In order to better protect their online privacy, students should better educate themselves about how their phone’s location services work and exactly what information they are sending out to the world. One of the easiest things to do is to simply avoid sharing where you are on social media—especially if you’re somewhere you can be found regularly. Additionally, you can more selectively use apps that require location data by leaving location services turned off most of the time, and only switching it back on if you absolutely need to. Taking steps like these only requires seconds of your time, but it makes a world of difference to your level of personal privacy.

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