Sticking up for social media

The past few weeks have seen the possibility of those under twelve years old joining
Facebook and over six million LinkedIn passwords leaked by hackers.  With such stories becoming day-to-day news it seems we are once again questioning the relationship between social media and personal privacy.

Talking amongst family members it seems privacy is something that has already drastically been re-defined in the span of one generation.  Growing up alongside the development of Myspace, Facebook and Twitter young people have become so accustomed to sharing their lives with online friends and followers that details once classed as ‘private’ are now posted online without a second thought. The question is, is this a problem or just a change in attitude?

The growth of social media and all that its enabled us to do should be celebrated. We are now able to share ideas, stories, information and maintain friendships with people all over the world and I think few people would disagree that these are exciting and life changing developments.   However what has divided opinion is the fact that the networks we now share our lives with are using the information we post to categorise and sell directly to us. It also mustn’t be forgotten that privacy settings do exist giving users the opportunity to choose what information they publicly share.

While the growing number of advertisements on Facebook have not been welcomed with open
arms, it must have been expected.   If we’re not paying out of our own pocket to use these sites it comes as no surprise that we must pay with our details. It has also been pointed out that if advertisements are going to exist on social media sites (which they are) wouldn’t we rather be targeted with content tailored to our interests and hobbies rather than with irrelevant
mass-broadcast ads? I certainly would.

People shouldn’t stop taking advantage of the great opportunities social media sites offer but an understanding must be reached not to expect the high levels of privacy that one once assumed existed.  As Mark Zuckerburg famously said “privacy is no longer a ‘social norm’” and with this understood we can all get back to posting, sharing, tweeting, blogging, pinning…