The wanting for personal privacy is not a new phenomenon, but the reason behind wanting privacy has changed greatly over the years. Within the world of social media, our personal information has become corrupted because of hackers. This has scared most people into searching for ways to achieve personal privacy. But personal privacy is hard to come by in today’s society mainly because of how easy it is to obtain people’s information. Two online articles that were both published for the New York Times, help further explain the privacy deficit we are experiencing within social media. The first one titled, “We Want Privacy, but Can’t Stop Sharing,” written by Katie Murphy, emphasizes that although we argue against our privacy being taken away from us, we still continue to share our lives on social media out of fear that we might be criticized by others. Meanwhile, the second article titled, “How Privacy Vanishes Online,” written by Steve Lohr, argues that we can try to protect our privacy but it is useless until we realize that what we post has the possibility to be used against us. Furthermore, I argue that the demands for privacy are ironic because the people who are demanding something to be done are the ones who expose themselves on social media platforms the most.
Reducing what you do on social media will further reduce your risk of having your information being hacked into. With the rise of social media, it has become easier to obtain people’s identity, which makes it harder for you to protect your information. Many people assume that their personal privacy is safe if their social media accounts are not open to the public. But according to Lohr, this might not be accurate. He states, “In social networks…You may not disclose personal information, but your online friends and colleagues may do it for you.” In other words, your friends on social media networks have access to everything you share and then some. Because of this, they can release information that you thought was safe. But this issue can be resolved by people acting as if what they post online is how they would act in the public eye. Murphy recognizes, “[P]eople are coming to understand how their online data might be used against them. You might not get a job, a loan or a date because of an indiscreet tweet or if your address on Google Street View shows your brother-in-law’s clunker in the driveway.” Basically, Murphy is showing that online data can be used against you in several ways. From Twitter to Google Street View, the evidence found online that can be used against you is endless. If Murphy and Lohr are right that our social media followers and online data can be used against us, then we need to reassess the popular opinion that being careful online is how you keep the hackers out. Because as the above quotes show, being careful will not cut it. You can still have your information hacked into.
Moreover, limiting what we post online has become more about what others will think and not about what we want. We have the desire to limit what we post on social media but do not because we are worried about what others will think. According to Murphy, “Sabine Trepte, a professor of media psychology at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, said, “they continued to participate because they were afraid of being left out or judged by others as unplugged and unengaged losers. So the cycle of disclosure followed by feelings of vulnerability and general dissatisfaction continued.” In other words, people continued to stay online simply because they were afraid of what those around them would think. Even though social media was making these people feel exposed and discontent. In today’s world, staying off social media makes a bigger statement than being on social media. No one questions you if you have a social media account, it is only when you do not have an account that you start getting questions. This is ironic because those who want their privacy to be protected and are still on social media are condemning those who are staying off social media. Murphy provides another example of how people treat those who are not on social media. She states, “When people want privacy there’s often this idea that, ‘Oh, they are hiding something dirty,’ but they are really just trying to hold onto themselves,” Professor Nippert-Eng said. She gives the example of a 65-year-old man who in his youth harbored the fantasy of being a rock star and still spends hours blissfully practicing his guitar in his basement: “He doesn’t want anyone to know, because he doesn’t want anyone to wreck it for him.” In order words, people often assume that because someone wants privacy, it automatically means that they are keeping a secret. This is not the case because as the example above shows that people want privacy simply because they do not want their life exposed. Not exposing their life on social media, for them, is one way to make sure their hopes/dreams will not be later used against them. While I agree that social media tends to wreck things, the blame should not be completely put on social media, but on ourselves. Exposing very detail of your life is a definite way for all your wanted best-kept secrets to be used against you. We should all be like the 65-year-old man and allow some parts of our lives to remain a mystery.
In conclusion, we need to stop trying to fight for our privacy when we are constantly posting not so private things onto social media. The only ones who can complain about their privacy are the ones who are not exposing their life on social media. In addition, we need to be careful that we are not belittling those who are not on social media. They are the only ones who are brave enough to pull the plug completely. I am still a firm believer that we will not see improvement in the privacy deficit until we stop fighting against it and just be careful in what we are doing on social media. �_