THESIS 1Privacy in social networking websites Awareness and Guidelines
In the present technological online world, as the wings of technology are spreading, the internet is commonly used for many purposes like social networking, browsing, gaming, doing business etc. The popularity and use of websites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, Myspace etc. have increased tri-fold. Billions of people are connected and are using the social media to connect, share and exchange the information. The face of Social media, today has changed the way the information is received and processed in this modern world.
Today, social networking is one of the sought-after service used by all. People are spending quite some time of the day in browsing the social media, sharing information and messages on the world-wide-web. This information is visible to friends as well as strangers. Facebook alone has more than 900 million users across the globe. Twitter and Linkedln have managed to gain popularity with more than 500 million users in the world. And still growing. It’s because of this large user base and critical information that is in store, these social networking sites are more vulnerable to attacks to use and exploit the information.
But it’s been in this decade only, the importance of data privacy has gained a global importance. There are other concerns too apart from the privacy issue, like identity theft, misuse, online harassment etc. for which all who are connected and wired are prone to these threats especially, young users.
Most young users, create and share critical information on social media networking sites as they are not able to handle and understand the data privacy issue to the fullest. Little did they know that these sites have a discretionary power to use the information and share it with unknown. Which makes them the most vulnerable age bracket because of lack of maturity and capability to handle the safety and precautions required while working online. Thus creating identity theft, harassment etc. problems for themselves.
Definition and concerns with Social Networking
Privacy on the Web, in general, revolves mostly around Information Privacy, as defined below in the IITF wording that Kang uses, (1) Information Privacy is “an individual’s claim to control the terms under which personal information–information identifiable to the individual–is acquired, disclosed or used.”
Privacy is defined here as personal information that an individual deems important and unattainable by the general population (Richards, 2007; Hodge, 2006; Etzioni, 1997; Kaplin and Lee, 1997). Personal information includes a person’s name, physical address, e-mail address, online user name, telephone number, social security number, and any other information with which that person could be identified (Blakely, 2007; Richards).
When we talk about the privacy issue, there are 2 important points that one needs to consider-
The intention with which the information is shared
And an unsaid expectation that the information shared is kept safe and not shared with the third party.
But when the information is shared online willingly or with the knowledge of the user for others to view, it is wrongful to assume that the information is private because the first point of consideration above, of intent is not fulfilled. The information has been put online with the intent to share and not keep private. Also, the user can put the privacy settings in place to prevent the information from being shared and made public. There is always a constant fear that this information will be misused.
Internet and online medium are constantly used to collect information efficiently and inexpensively without even taking the consumers consent. Many data mining tools are used to gather this unique information like preference, sex, age, interests, and even confidential account information. Thus, consumers are concerned about their privacy rights. The following are the privacy points that user is worried about-
Website browsing, and visits are being tracked
The personal information like age, sex, email addresses will be shared with marketing personnel without due permission.
Personal information is sold to unknown people without permission
Credit card and bank account misuse and theft.
Social network privacy- its major threats and issues
Social networking sites store quite a sensitive and private data and have become a large pool of sensitive data like photos, comments, demographic information, like/dislikes, videos etc. Because of this large pool and easy accessibility, cybercriminals are finding new ways and avenues to exploit and use this sensitive data for its use. But now, users are finding a need for protecting their data. Many of the social networking sites are taking preventive security measures to ensure that the data breaches don’t happen. But the social media hackers are breaking the barriers of these security measures. More and more people are connected and using social networking and finding the need and urgency to find ways to save data and protecting it from misuse. Let’s look at the major issues and threats related to social networking websites-
Identity theft- In identity theft, someone’s identity or sensitive data are stolen by other person and misused in a malicious way.
Phishing- Information available online can be used and misused by the unknown. Many phishing emails and spams are sent that ask for credit card or bank details etc. which are deadly for the user as he must bear a sudden monetary loss if the hacker is able to find the information he is looking for.
Unwanted and illegal advertising- Most users when visiting online can see many advertisements in one corner of the screen. These advertisements run automatically, using the history of browsing not only on Social media sites like Facebook but also track the online activities that one is engaged when not logged on to Facebook. If a user was browsing about the flights or hotel in a location, one can see the increased advertising on social networking sites like Facebook. How can this happen? All this data is put under the umbrella of Big Data and there are many who are using data mining tools to gather the massive data information about their target customers and use it for marketing.
Hacking and Online harassments – Social interaction with friends, family and even strangers, on popular websites like Facebook are common. There are many unknowns who take advantage of these and hack the account for its personal use or pleasure. Now all the friends in the victims list are venerable to such kind of incidents. Only vigilant watch and alertness helps in overcoming such issues.
Young children safety- Many young teenagers are creating fake profile and forging on to the age, to log on to social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Without much maturity and sensibility, these young minds are sharing information online. Unaware of the various threats that they are exposed to by doing this. These young minds are also involved in playing games online, which might be a threat of life for them. One such gaming site that surfaced recently was The Blue Whale game, in which kids are asked to do self-harm dare acts and take video. Eventually the last stage is suicide. The videos are send confirming about the completion of task. Thus, promoting them to next level. So far more than 100 deaths have happened because of the game. Children who play such games often end up with an injury or suicide. Parents vigilant watch and counselling can help these kids to protect their privacy and not get involved in self- destructive acts.
Measures to protect
Although most of the sites and social media
To make the users aware of internet privacy issues and threats, one can organize awareness programs or enrol in online self-educating courses that help in understanding about how to manage the information online in a better and safe way.
While accepting friend’s requests, users should be vigilant and matured enough to accept the invitations posted by friends.
One should be respectful of the privacy of the friends and seek permission when posting their pictures or videos or tagging them without information.
Many websites give the freedom to the account user to block them from the friends list even after one has accepted his/her friends request.
Changing the privacy settings is one important point of safeguarding oneself from the online menace. Restriction of the private photos /data only to close friends or family Facebook provides a privacy setting wherein it is allowing its users to set restriction for access of information. One can choose to share the information to public or to any specific friend.
An online user should carefully choose the information before putting them online or broadcasting them. There is always a constant threat that these data might be used for some or the other purpose without permission.
In this decade, technology has grown tremendously, and have opened new avenues of communication channels. But young minds who are using popular social networking sites regularly to browse, find data and chat with friends, don’t bother about the privacy threat that they are exposed to. Social networking and online privacy become a serious issue for such young users who are sharing sensitive information without being aware of the threats. These sites contain a lot of sensitive data, which make it one of the key target for the attackers.
Identity theft, privacy and security issues, online harassments, hacking etc. are few of the points that most people are concerned when using and posting sensitive data on these social sites.
To avoid such breach of privacy, people should be vigilant and sensitive while putting data online. Proper awareness programs, changing privacy settings, friend block and reading the privacy document carefully before sharing sensitive issues online will help to protect the data and users. Therefore, all social network users should understand all the pros and cons and use them more carefully and vigilantly to avoid any threat.
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