Privacy Levels on Social Networking Sites - To What Extent Are They

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Privacy Levels on Social Networking Sites - To What Extent Are They



A social networking site can be defined as a website where people can network, and communicate with another. These websites are designed solely for the purpose of communities being made, whether you want to re-connect with an old high school friend, or whether you just want to make some friends online in general.

Social networking sites have revolutionised communication, and are now one of the main sources of communication used today. Facebook was created in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerburg, and is estimated to have over 175 million members (Hovi, Pitkanen, Tuunainen, 2009).

Whilst social networking sites have grown over the years, so have concerns about

privacy issues on these sites. Privacy is a hard concept to define, but it has been stated

by Johnson (1989) as follows:

“Privacy is a conventional concept. What is considered private is socially or

culturally defined. It varies from context to context. It is dynamic, and it is quite

possible that no single example can be found of something which is considered

private in every culture. Nevertheless, all examples of privacy have a single common

feature. They are aspects of a person’s life which are culturally recognised as being

immune from the judgement of others.”

In the context of this essay, Fried (1968) defined privacy as, “control over knowledge

about oneself.”

Facebook initially was a network which only Harvard students could join. This was

then extended to other Ivy League schools, then to nearly all of the colleges in the

United States, and now it is a global phenomenon, where anyone in the world with a

valid email address can join.

It is...

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...oaded information such as videos & photos. However, unless

Privacy settings were altered, status updates were to be made available to the public.

Also, even if privacy settings were used to a maximum by the user, his/her profile

picture, friends list, fan pages, name, city and gender would still be available to the

general public. With Facebook working very closely with search engines such as Bing

and Google, it has been stated in the Guardian that “some updates from the social

network” will be included in their search index.

Previously in this report, it was discussed that the default privacy settings on

Facebook are such that anyone on your network can view your profile. Networks can

be companies, schools, colleges, and towns. Photos and videos are the only exception

To this, and can be viewed by anyone in the world (Peterson, 2009).
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