November 4, 2018.
Effects of Social Media on Individuals and Privacy.
If someone walks up to you and asks you of your social security, e-mail address or even names of places you frequently visit, would you give him or her that information? I believe the answer is no. However, technology has made the labelling of personally identifying information outdated. How? This is because strangers can have access to others personal information that makes them unique without their permission. This goes a long way to affect these individuals who have their privacy invaded. In this essay, the two articles used are “All Eyes on You” by Jennifer Golbeck and “How Privacy Vanishes Online” by Steve Lohr. “All Eyes on You” by Golbeck focuses on how people lose privacy with the use of phones on social-networking sites, and even in their environment and how this loss of privacy affects these people. In “How Privacy Vanishes Online,” Lohr argues that personal information on the internet allows private information such as “social security number” (19), neighborhood, workplace and even if a person is cheating in a relationship to be exposed. Perhaps the greatest invention for the past decade is social networking. Today, we can do a whole lot like video chatting, faxing, sharing of photos and many others. However, as social media has increased, an argument can be made that there has been a proportional decrease in personal privacy, hence affecting the lives of individuals. Aside from losing control over their personal information, their privacy cannot be fully regained again. Social networking sites are very useful but before you sign up, consider privacy.
Social Media has rapidly altered our understanding of personal information and relationships to the extent that private is now public. It has been able to do this by sharing of others personal information. In “How Privacy Vanishes Online,” Lohr explains that all kinds of personal information about people online allows private information about them such as their social security to be traced easily. In stating the idea of how we lose our privacy online, Lohr presents statistics of class project done in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where the students analyzed 4000 Facebook profile students and were able to predict with “78% accuracy” (6) who was gay and who was not. Another way stated by Lohr about how private become public was when he acknowledged that, “Netflix gave $1 million dollars to a group of statisticians and computer scientist who analyzed the rental history of 500,000 subscribers and increased the Netflix recommendation software by 10%” (9). Before these analysts were be able to come up with the analysis, they looked up personal information about these subscribers on social- networking sites and monitored their preference over a period of time. Lohr states that, “Yet an individuals’ actions, are rarely enough to protect privacy in the interconnected world of the internet” (11). This tells that once signed up on a social- networking site, private becomes public with very little chance of regaining privacy. Hence, concludes that, social media is resulting in a decrease in the privacy of individuals since their information is out there for others to use against or for them.
People use others private information against them in a sense that, it can lead to identity theft, stealing of social security number and others. It can also be used for them in the sense that, it can be a way an employer can reach people even though they did not apply for a particular position. This leads into the second point supporting the claim with evidence from “All Eyes on You,” by Jennifer Golbeck.
Social- networking sites as a result of sharing personal data about people, tend to affect the lives of these individuals. How? This is one of the things Jennifer Golbeck discusses in her article, “All Eyes on You.” Jennifer Golbeck states that, “if people treat others differently based on what they see online, it reduces trust and civic participation of these individuals” (11). She explains that this information made public, remains permanent and can harm an individual, even those who have changed and seeking a better life. Golbeck states that “A range of people, from a long-reformed criminal seeking a fresh slate to a sober former college girl in the job market, can find the omnipresence of public records and posted photos permanently holds them back” (20). This shows that these information about people online go a long way to negatively affect them even after a change. She also explains that it causes people to lose faith in themselves because even if they change, it does not change what is online. Some of the harm it can do to such people includes inducing paranoia and self-doubt. Even though this privacy invasion has a positive effect of securing some people jobs, it does more harm than good.
Social media and the internet keeps track of people to the extent that those who try to protect their privacy either get only partial success or none at all. Lohr in “How Privacy Vanishes Online,” states that, “Yet an individual’s actions, researchers say, are rarely enough to protect privacy in the interconnected world of the internet” (11). The author explains that even when people try to protect their privacy by not sharing any personal information on these social sites, probably their friends or associates may disclose certain private information hence making it difficult for privacy to prevail. Lohr observes that, this is what signing up for a social media networking stands for. Thus, nothing like personal privacy. Golbeck in her article, “All Eyes on You” states that the more people try to protect their privacy, the more paranoid they become. Golbeck uses an example to state this point when prize-winning investigator, Julia Angwin tried to protect her privacy by changing her name and using encryption software. However, achieved only partial success. Golbeck quoted from Julia Angwin’s book Dragnet Nation that, “the more I learnt about who was watching me, the more paranoid I become” (qtd in Golbeck). These two articles agree to the fact that once a profile is created on any social networking site, getting privacy is rare irrespective of the kind of protection website used. Both Lohr and Golbeck makes the audience aware that privacy no longer becomes a thing and confidential becomes private no matter how hard people try.
From Lohr’s article, one can deduce that once a profile is created, privacy is no longer available. The same idea is implied in “All Eyes on You” by Golbeck when she quotes Scott McNealy, on the fact that there is “zero privacy” (qtd in Golbeck). Social media is good; however, individual privacy is not respected, and this can go a long way to negatively affect individuals. As the internet grows more, whatever people say or do might become digital data that is permanent.
• Lohr, Steve. “How Privacy Vanishes Online.” The New York Times, 16 March 2010,
• Golbeck, Jennifer. “All Eyes on You.” Issues of Psychology Today, September/October 2014.