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Privacy in Social Networking

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Social networking sites are not just a social instrument of communication but, it is the creation and exchange of Content generated by the user. When compared to other years, social networking, exhibit a fantastic growth in terms of people involvement, penetration, user-ability and business. There are facts associated with social networking: The most number of established users of social network in the world are in Australia followed by USA and UK (Engdahl, 2007). The effects of social networks on advertising, spoken words are popular with seventy eight percent of customers trust peer recommendations on sites. Face book, BlogSpot followed by MySpace are the top sites that are mostly visited by under 18s (Domingo, 2007). In a survey carried on about two thousand eight hundred and eighty four people throughout fourteen countries, ninety percent of the people who participated know at least one social networking site. Seventy two percent of this sample are active on the internet and, at least on one networking sites. Top three countries that its population posses at least one network site is Brazil with ninety five percent, USA with a total of eighty four percent, and Portugal with eighty two percent (Ur, 2007).

Consequently, People connected in a particular networking site feel no need to further expand their membership on other social network sites. On an average, users usually log in twice a day to a social networking site and, about nine times a month on professional websites. The most popular online activity is sending personal messages. Other online activities that are popular are watching photos, checking status, reacting to others’ status, and uploading pictures.
Face book is an example of social site with over five hundred million users. If this was a country, it would be the third world largest country in the world. Most of the face book uses spends about fifty five minutes a day on this site, this is about six point five hours a week and translates to 1.2 days a month on the site (Partridge, 2011).

Face book’s applications support over one hundred languages of the world. Over nine hundred million objects are used by the people to interact with for example, pages, groups, events and community pages. An average user of face book creates ninety pieces of content each month. Over three hundred thousand people who use this site translate the site through the translations application. Over one hundred and fifty million users usually engage with Face book on external websites every month. YouTube is another social site and, has the following facts; YouTube have over two billion viewers each day. Twenty four hours of video is uploaded to YouTube by people who use this site every minute (Shih, 2011). United States has over seventy percent of YouTube users (Sandle, 2006). More than half of those people who uses YouTube’s are under the age of twenty. Music videos consist of twenty percent of all uploads on YouTube.  

Blogger Facts is yet another social site having over one hundred and eighty one million blogs. Of all the bloggers post, thirty four percent of these post opinions about products and brands. Sixty percent of the bloggers is between the ages of eighteen to forty four years. One person out of five updates his or her blog every day (Espejo, 2011). Male consist two third of all the bloggers. Fourteen percent of all the blogging in this site accounts for corporate blogging. Ten hours a week are spent by fifteen percent of the bloggers blogging. Half of all the bloggers are married or they are parents. More than fifty percent of the people who use blog have more than one blog.

Moreover, Tweet Facts has fifty four percent of bloggers posting their content or tweet on a daily basis. Eighty percent of twitters user uses twitter on their mobile device. In year 2010, there were about fifty million tweets (Shih, 2011). Currently, there are over one hundred and ten people who use twitter. One hundred and eighty million of unique user do access twitter each month. Over six hundred of searches that are done today happen on twitter.

LinkedIn comprises of sixty million users and half of these users are from outside United States. During the year 2010, Australia had more than one million LinkedIn users. Eighty percent of organization in the world uses LinkedIn as a recruitment tool. For every second that passes, a new member joins LinkedIn. About eleven million unique visitors visit LinkedIn every day.
Wikipedia has number of articles ranging to about three million (Shih, 2011). Sixty nine percent of people who use Wikipedia do it to fix errors. Seventy three percent of Wikipedia users edit Wikipedia because they want to pass knowledge between networks. Thirteen percent of those people who edit Wikipedia are women.

Foursquare has more than half a million users, one and a quarter million venues, and fifteen point five million check-ins. Foursquare is larger than Gowalla by more than five times. In august 2010 Foursquare passed the 3 million users gap. Social networking has now become more popular than instant messaging among adults. From all other social sites Face book has come to dominate social networking in the world. It overtook MySpace in year 2009. Other social networks such as Tagged, Hi5, My Yearbook and Bebo, still gets about three to six million unique per month. Time spend online on social site network equates to twenty two percent of all time online.

Pop Cap study showed more than fifty five percent of the participants in the social games are mostly women. From December 2010 to date, LinkedIn network had 55 million members showing that it had grown by five million in less than two months (Espejo, 2007). Tagged Registered 100 Million user, global Monthly Unique Visitors is more than sixteen million, Daily Users are up to three point five million and Monthly Page Views add up to seven billion. There are more people using social networks from mobile devices than desktop clients. Many people use mobile web to socialize (ninety one percent) compared to seventy five percent of desktop uses this for the same. Thus mobile phones are seen to be a better platform for social networking than the PC.

Face book has 550,000,000 Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors. Twitter has 95,800,000 Estimated Unique users in every month (Shih, 2011). My space has 80,500,000 while LinkedIn has 50,000,000 of estimated Unique Monthly Visitors. Tagged has 30,000,000 and hi5 has 27,000,000 - Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors. My yearbook has 12,000,000 Monthly Visitors while Meet up has 8,000,000. Friendster and my Heritage have 5,000,000 and 4,800,000 estimated Unique Monthly Visitors respectively while multiply and orkut has 4,600,000 and 4,500,000 Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors respectively.

How the rapid increase in social networking affects privacy

Social networking sites have found their adoption by children and mostly, teenagers and youth throughout the world. This allows construction of wide range of relationships, and how they manage privacy and intimacy. Social networking enhances new risks to the self, bullying, privacy invasion and dangerous contacts. There are a series of risks associated with social networking - bullying, harassment, and exposure to harmful content, theft of personal information, sexual grooming, and violent behavior, self-harm and racist attacks. Social networking link containing a range of content, contact and conduct are risks not only to children, but also young people.  Online survey taken on nine to nineteen years old found that, within those who used the internet mostly in a week, fifty seven percent had seen online pornography, thirty one percent had seen violence and eleven percent had seen racist content (Partridge, 2011).  It also found out that, thirty one percent had received sexual comments and twenty percent had seen or been sent unsolicited sexual material.

MySpace profiles owned by clients who are under 18s found that, fifty seven percent provided personal photos, eighteen percent discussed alcohol consumption. Sixteen percent showed images of friends in underwear, nine percent provided real names, eight percent discussed smoking and five percent discussed marijuana. A survey carried in united state of America showed that younger teens are likely to post false information; older teenagers provide detailed personal information (Engdahl, 2007). An Irish survey carried on ten to twenty year olds showed that while fourteen percent gave out their date of birth, it is only twelve percent who gave out their mobile phone number and eight percent their home address. There is evidence that personal disclosure of all your details facilitates communication risks. 

A survey carried out in 2006 found that, although sixty nine percent pupils were bullied in their past year, only seven percent said they had received unpleasant or bullying emails. Another survey found twenty percent had been cyber bullied. Mostly much cyber bullying is reported in the USA: seventy two percent of children between the ages of twelve to fourteen year had been bullied online in the previous year according to the survey. Thirty three percent of ten to fifteen year olds approached in USA reported being harassed online in 2007. They harassed through instant messaging or chartrooms more than via social networking sites (Ur, 2007). For social networking, a factor of importance is whether a teenager’s profile is made available. It is also a factor whether he or she is careful or casual in accept unknown contacts as friends.

Laws on privacy concerning social networking and how they vary from state to state and country to country

Privacy Law ensures that confidential personal information is protected. This information is whether disclosed in a private location or to a professional and the getting of electronic data in which the personal information provided is disclosed or inappropriately (Ur, 2007). Privacy Law in US shows that social networking Web sites, such as MySpace, Face book, and Friendster have become recognized for keeping in contact with old friends and meeting new ones. Users can generate Web page and post information regarding them. In these web pages, they put details on where they went to school, their desired movie titles and their relationship status. They can link with their friends on the same site, their photos, names, brief description, videos etc. This information can be assessed by unauthorized person.

Most people feel that their private details are being distributed far more extensively than they would desire. Over seven hundred thousand people signed an online petition insisting that the company discontinue the aspect, stating that his had a compromise on their privacy. One of the four categories of privacy torts is false light. Others are misuse, interference, and publication of private facts.  The nature of false light claims varies from one state to another. They usually protect the users from insulting and false facts stated about them to the public (Lawrence, 1976).

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act imposes limitations on the likelihood of disclosure of non public personal information by financial institutions. This may be about consumers’ relation with third parties and requires financial institutions to give privacy notices.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution is concern the Bill of Rights. This amendment prohibits the Congress making laws that respect establishment of any religion. The law in question is one that impend the free exercise of religion, this provide an infringement on the freedom of speech and freedom of the press (Venter, 2007). United States has been in the forefront in development of new technologies that aid the Internet infrastructure and E-commerce. As E-commerce find worldwide entry, concerns are raised on how new business models and new technologies may compromise the privacy interests of individual people who use this service. Consumers argues that, more commercial privacy regulation are needed had advised on imposition a privacy regulatory regime on the Internet.

Privacy of one’s personal details is a major aspect of the FTC's consumer protection mission. In yester years, advances in computer knowledge have encouraged detailed information about being people being compiled and shared without difficulty and inexpensively more than ever. This had made it easier for law enforcement to track down criminals, for banks to put off fraud, and for consumers to find out about new products and services. This allows them to make a better and an informed purchasing decision. Thus the government must take safety measures to guard against the mishandling of information. Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule that protects the privacy of individual (Ur, 2007). Confidentiality of the Patient Safety Rule, protect certain information being used to investigate patient safety events and improve their safety.

Privacy Act of 1974, establishes a code of just information practices that governs the mode of collection, maintenance, use, and distribution of personally information. This information may be maintained in systems of records by federal agencies (Partridge, 2011). The Privacy Act requires that agencies give the public notice of their systems accounts that are publicized in the Federal Register. Privacy law covered the invasion of privacy which is based in common law permitting an upset party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his or her personal life. This may be disclosure of his or her personal information, publicizes him or her in a phony light, or appropriates his or her name his gain.

The children’s online privacy act implements Rule protect the children’s information, operators of who knowingly collects personal information from children under the age of thirteen must: inform parents about their information; acquire provable parental approval before collecting a child’s private information; present a choice to the parent whether the information will be disclosed to third parties; supply parents right to access child’s information; Personal information is more than a person’s name, address and Social Security number. It comprises shopping habits, driving record, medical diagnoses, work history and much more. Right to privacy refers to having power over your private information.

Past and current law suits pertaining to social networking

There was case that involved TEKs with its employers. TEKs Systems claimed it had proof of breach of the employment contract coming from post-termination solicitation of its employees through the LinkedIn links of one of the defendants.  Molly DiBianca states that this was the first lawsuit she is conscious of using an employee's LinkedIn record. In Connecticut, there was a social networking proof case with Face book. This was a bullying case involving Miss Porter's School, judge Arterton that the posting by plaintiff in an expired account were relevant. Twins Cameron winklevoss settled a lawsuit with Mark Zuckerberg the face book owner. This led to the Winklevoss twin taking five percent face book ownership (Espejo, 2011). Their claim was that Mark Zuckerberg had stolen the idea they had for a website they called connect U. California occupant Alan Claridge filed a lawsuit in opposition to Rock You for a December 2009 data breach where thirty two million users’ names, passwords, and email addresses were being revealed. Claridge sued the company for carelessness, breach of contract, and violations of data protection.

With the much of personal information on sites such as face book, Twitter and LinkedIn, criminals can have easy access and misuse of personal information. If someone has enough individual information concerning you for example your personal details, they can apply for a credit card or loan in your name and eventually steal from you.  Your details can also be sold to someone else. Bank account or personal details should not be emailed without much care. Email may decipher people, to look like it is from a friend; yet it may be coming from criminals. In 2010, a study conducted showed that, eleven million adults were victims of some kind of identity theft in 2009. Thirteen percent of these crimes were committed by people known to the victims (Lawrence, 1976).

Identity theft can arise out of many ways for example from lost or misplaced bank statements which are taken through sophisticated viruses that hack into personal computer. One can protect himself against the above theft by making sure that the pin number is shielded from public view when using it from ATM machines. Passwords should be changed regularly to any email, online banking accounts or insurance policies. When passwords are being chosen, letter and numbers should be used and number sequence or letter sequence should be avoided. Antivirus software should be installed to prevent online hackers from accessing your machine and stealing private information (Espejo, 2011).  Letters from your mailbox should be checked and taken regularly. Leaving them for many days increases the chances of someone stealing them using your identity by forging your signature or using your own details.

Employers using social networking to choose employees

Social networking sites are helpful to employers who use them for both networking and recruiting. The potential for social networking sites to play a major role in employee recruiting strategy accelerating many potential employees to profile themselves on these sites. The world of recruiting employees is taking another direction. Users of social networking sites are using them for developing and expanding personal network of professionals to whom the employer can send a request. These sites help one to stay in touch with former, valued, trusted colleagues for potential future employment.

A person can Search for potential employees by past or present employer who may have employed people with the skills and know-how you are looking for your company. Employees can be searched basing your argument on references from recommenders you trust. Employer can ask his current employees to activate their networks for further recruiting and that they can be reached. Employers who participate in groups in a social networking site may share the interests, memberships, specializations, backgrounds, and knowledge that he is searching for in a potential employee.

In conclusion, use of social networking has the pros and cons. It is ardent to be keen while using these social sites as, not all the users have good intentions. These sites have seen the augmentation of people’s lifestyles, as people can be able to reconnect. It has also become an essential tool in the job market where, it acts as the fastest tool of marketing.

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