The Power and Politics of Privacy on Social Networking Sites
In my opinion, I feel that all online sites should create tactics that emphasize high level of privacy protection for their users. When individuals sign up for social media sites, they intend to reconnect with old friends and colleagues or possibly make new ones, not have their personal information shared with third parties.
On a scale from 1-10, my concern about my personal information on any social media site is a 10. When joining these sites, there’s certain information (like you address and telephone number) that you have to share and would hope not get out to public. I know that when I am on social media sites I am careful not to post my location or anything too personal because there are some people out to harm others. I believe that using information about your consumers in order to improve your business or service is acceptable. However, the manner in which they do it may not be as acceptable. There should be an option that is obvious and not hidden in the settings, that should allow consumers to have the choice if they want their activities shared or not. It is somewhat concerning to know that what I may do, search, or buy online is being used without my knowledge. These websites should blatantly layout how they access this information and what they use it for. That shows the consumer that the website companies are honest and their best interests are a priority.
Mark Zuckerberg used the legitimate power political tactic whenever he changed the terms of Facebook privacy. He did it very discreetly and without notifying Facebook users because he can. He is the CEO of Facebook and he basically has the power to do whatever he wants. He changed the terms based on the policies and rules of the company. He then received negative feedback so he used his power again to tweak the policy change.
I feel that the most powerful stakeholders in terms of shaping the future direction of online privacy issues are the users. Without users, each of the social media sites would lose its revenue. If the users do not feel that their privacy is protected, eventually they will stray away from the site. If there are no users, then social networking companies won’t have any personal information to generate advertising revenue; advertising firms won’t know who to target for specific market segments; privacy advocacy groups won’t have any information to limit disclosure; technology companies won’t have any information to share; and the government won’t be able to find signs of malevolent activities, all because there are no users.
Of the stakeholders listed, I believe that the government is the most powerful in terms of shaping the future direction of online privacy issues. Ultimately, users, social networking companies, advertising firms, privacy advocacy groups, and technology companies are not nearly as powerful as the government. Whatever the government may say or outlaw, these other stakeholders have to abide by it or risk being shut down. The government can say “No more sharing of your users’ private information” tomorrow, and they will have no choice but to stop. But who knows if they will enforce the rule or not, which leads to a whole different view. If the rules are not enforced, I believe that users have the most power. If the users figure out their information is being shared and they do not like that idea, they will eventually stop using that particular website or service. If a business has no consumers or users in this case, their business will potentially fade away. The only reason users would not have as much power is because they are one group of so many people. They are not necessarily on the same page with the same goal. Privacy Advocacy group unite the users. The users are still the most important aspect of a business because without someone buying your product, using your service, or surfing your website, you really do not have much. Every group in this list has some sort of power. Advertising firms spend the money and technology companies made it possible for websites to exist.
I believe that privacy advocacy groups have the most power in terms of shaping the future direction of online privacy issues. Advocacy groups are like the spokesperson for consumers. They have more power to bring awareness and change the issue through protests, meeting with government officials, etc.