Privacy in Social Media and Social Networks


Nowadays, it is hard to image everyday life without the Internet and social networks where people spend much of their time. The fact is that such networks as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook become not only popular among people but become a crucial factor in such fields as marketing, management, and business. Social networks and media are used by people to be in touch with the world, be aware of the latest news and changes, and be ready to make fast decisions and evaluations. Though teenagers are defined as active users of social media (Velden and Emam, 2013), today, many researchers, scholars, and business people like to use social media as a good example of a business model and the way to elaborate the information in a short period (Clark, 2015).

Besides, social media has a certain connection with cultural norms and values developed by people. This connection cannot be ignored because it aims at establishing the relations between people, showing the behavioural norms, and identifying the rules that have to be followed. Social media helps to create and deliver messages from different parts of the world. Some of these messages can be public. Still, many people want to make them private and underline the importance of privacy in social media. Therefore, the questions of privacy in social media and social networks are frequently discussed by the representatives of different social groups to clarify if it is correct to publish all private information online and share it without informing a person. This paper aims at discussing the recent developments in regards to privacy among people who use social media and social networks.

Modern Choices and the Development of Social Media

For many people, the evolution of social media was unnoticeable for a long period. In the 1980s, not many people think about using social media to meet their business goals. People liked to use the Internet to entertain and spend some time at an unusual place. It was normal to pose a personal question and find an answer in several minutes (Rheingold, 1993). However, within a short period, the Internet became a crucial aspect of the lives of millions of people. Customers can make purchases online. Patients could get the diagnosis or ask for help via the Internet.

Designers and architectures offer their ideas and installations online. Electronic frontiers were broken in several years, and the question of privacy gained a new meaning (Rheingold, 1993). People even trust in their choices and preferences to the ideas offered online. They stop thinking independently but put their questions in the search engine and get millions of answers in several seconds. Changes are evident, and it is hard to clarify if these changes are positive or negative. There are no other effective alternatives to social media and social networks. However, the main point is that people are not even in need of the alternatives because they are satisfied with the options they get with Facebook or Instagram.

Cultural Issues in Social Media

Hulting (2014) admits that social media is a really big deal that cannot be neglected. It is characterised by a constant flow of the information. Its connection to popular culture is reflected in such means as television, newspapers, and the Internet. However, the speed the news shared on the Internet is faster than the speed of the information exchange via television. People like to use social media all the time to stay informed, to get access to different services and facts, and to know where some benefits could be obtained.

Unfortunately, social media is characterised by both, positive and negative, outcomes. Therefore, the negative impact of social media cannot be forgotten because its recognition helps people to understand what steps they could take when they use social networks and what things and decisions have to be avoided. For example, the gap in generations turns out to be evident with the frequent use of social networks (Hulting, 2014). There are many adults, who do not know how to use Facebook, what the benefits of Facebook membership are, or even what Facebook means.

However, almost all teenagers or young adults find it obligatory to have a Facebook account to communicate with friends, use online services, or even develop own business. It is not enough to use Facebook or Instagram. It is more important to understand their worth. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, admitted that such social networks as Facebook had to be public from its first creation day (Kirkpatrick, 2010). The explanation for such a decision is the possibility to make people more open and communicative with each other. Besides, social media should be the example of freedom people strive for.

Therefore, social media and its privacy concerns have to be investigated not from the perspective that all people have the right to have confidential information but from the perspective that if people decide to use social media, they accept an idea of total freedom and access to the information about people, places, events, services, etc. Cultural freedoms and the absence of restrictions are what attract Internet users.

Privacy Issues in Social Media Networks

Privacy is the possibility to conceal personal information and reveal it only in special cases under certain conditions. In other words, privacy in social networks should be selective. Still, as soon as people start comprehending a true value of the information they have, the more privacy could be identified to promote safe interactions with social media, governments, and other groups (Clark, 2015). The statistics show that only 14% of Facebook information is public so that everyone could see it, 25% of information is partially private, and 60% of information remains to be open to friends only (Pew Research Center, 2013). Instagram has other numbers with 64% of the public information and 24% of private data (Pew Research Center, 2013).

At the same time, it is necessary to comprehend that the privacy of information should not be the only point for bothering. It has also been proved that not many people are ready to share true information online. 92% of people introduce their real names online. However, even fewer people (62% only) are eager to share actual information about their relationship status (Pew Research Center, 2013). Therefore, social media and social networks have to bother not about the privacy of the data they introduce but also to promote the introduction of true and actual information. Privacy policies are still developed and improved in regards to the needs and expectations of current Internet users. It is important to understand how the needs of different people have to be categorised and addressed.

Impact of Social Media on Different People

The representatives of Facebook participated in the study to understand the emotional impact of Facebook on people (Strange, 2014). It happens that personal photos, statuses, and comments could develop a variety of emotions. Therefore, the impacts of social networks have to be properly investigated and explained. Social media is defined as a form of communication-based computers and media. It is a frequently discussed topic, but it is wrong to believe that no gaps exist in the literature about popular media and its role in human lives (McIntyre, 2014). Many children and adolescents like to use social media. Besides, their parents promote their intentions to be as aware of social media possibilities as possible. The impact of media on individuals of different age varies.

Children and Social Media

One of the main tasks parents have to complete is the creation of a healthy environment for their children. Many parents believe that if they provide their children with access to the Internet, they enhance communication and social connection and develop technical skills (O’Keeffe and Clarke-Pearson, 2011). Children and adolescents could use social media to develop their learning opportunities as well. It is possible to gather outside information with the help of such sources as Facebook (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). Finally, children and adolescents could use social media and meet their main goal – to share information. Sharing is what people like to do (Brenoff, 2014), and children, as no one else, like to share their emotions, experiences, and discoveries with people in a short period. Social freedoms online are appreciated by children and adolescents.

Ordinary People and Everyday Use of Social Media

Nowadays, many people like to share. If they are defined as socially isolated in their communities, it should not mean that they do not have other ways to find out interesting information or to share personal emotions and experiences. The investigations of Bernstein (2013) show that oversharing happens because of the intention to control personal anxiety. People like blabbing to make other people think of their issues, offer their suggestions, and focus on the things that could matter nothing at first sight and become crucially important as soon as they are pointed at.

Celebrities in Social Media

If children and ordinary people use social media to find a required portion of information or to demonstrate personal achievements, the impact of social media on celebrities differs considerably. Celebrities consider social media as the possibility to be discussed and recognised. The concept of digital narcissism has been widely spread to underline the possible effects of social media on people (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2014). Ostentation and unlimited possibilities are developed with the help of social media, and celebrities, as no one else, could promote the development and spread of different emotions and thoughts. People want to observe as many photos and posts that are offered by their celebrities. Still, the trustfulness of such information and the true intentions of the creators could be hardly understood and accepted. Effective marketing and the introduction of the information are the goals celebrities set at first when they start using social networks and media.

Pros and Cons of the Idea to Share Information Online

The debates on privacy in social media and social networks cannot be stopped. There are as many opinions as many people in the world. One person could find it interesting to share fake information online to check another person. Some people believe that only true information has to be given via social networks. Some people cannot understand the attention to such issues as social media, Facebook, and other types of social networks. Numerous comparisons between real communication and online forums occur to prove the chosen positions.

The importance of user privacy has been discussed for years (Kirkpatrick, 2010). The contradictions between the positions of privacy and its importance impress and confuse people at the same time. For example, Velden and Emam (2013) mention that a minority of young users are eager to change the public default to private settings. There are not many concerns about private information and the necessity to conceal some data. The investigations of the Pew Research Center demonstrate opposite results because several people continue hiding some private information and make it available to friends or relatives only. Even the developers of social networks cannot comprehend if people want to leave their information private or make it public without any doubts.

The Internet and Modern People: The Relations that Cannot Be Avoided

The development of new media cannot be neglected or avoided. People like to use the Internet to find the answers to the questions in a short period, save their time and take a turn online, communicate with people that are far away, or share personal experiences that could be applied in further work. The Internet creates a world where people could do everything possible without even leaving their homes. Social networks are created to unite people and make them share the same goals and the same techniques. Also, social networks are used to develop business and offer services to different people. Nowadays, not many people like to visit shops. Instead of daily routines, they prefer to place orders online and make purchases in one or two clicks. There are many ads about new collections, services, and opportunities that could be offered via Facebook. Instagram is used to share personal experience and make people watch what other people suggest. Modern people may not know the real addresses of each other, but they know their nicknames, interests, and even the city where the last vacation was spent. Such paradox of the private information impresses and makes nervous at the same time.


In general, the debates around the questions of privacy in social media and social networks have enough reasons and grounds. People like to believe that they control something in their lives, and they want to know that any kind of information they offer online is under their control. Unfortunately, none of the developers of social networks could provide their users with 100% guarantees that all information remains to be private all the time. There are many hackers and other people, who could change passwords or discover private information. Several policies are created to improve privacy issues. Social media should be a source of information and a means to exchange the information but not to think about privacy issue and the methods of how to protect personal files. Therefore, the ideas offered by Zuckerberg about the necessity to make all information given by users public so that people could think what they could mention and what they have to keep private before they start worrying about how someone could steal their information.

Reference List


Bernstein, E. (2013) ‘Thank you for not sharing’, Wall Street Journal. Web.

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Not Cited but Read

Gunthert, (2015) ‘The consecration of the selfie: a cultural history’, L’image sociale. Web.

Wendt, B. (n.d.) No. 08: the allure of the selfie: Instagram and the new self portrait, Brooke Wendt. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures. Web.

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