Recently, I read news about religion in Sweden. To tell the truth, the news was pretty ridiculous for me, because I could not understand why people had to establish the religion about ‘file sharing’ and ask their government to approve it officially. Anyhow, ‘sharing’ is inevitable social activity in this digital era, which also a main concept of social media. Yes, basically we share almost everything; from our value, opinion, thoughts, political perspectives, professional experiences, etc. to trivial everyday life stories. Social media actually influence our lives positively in many diverse ways. The traditional media such as newspaper company or broadcasting company are not the only entities that can apprise the news, but also individual can report world-striking news with social media. Besides, each customer can influence against sizable business by tweeting. All these positive changes have been brought by social media. It seems that new media allows individuals to voice their opinions and to control over the big organizations. However, consider the sharing your PRIVACY. Suddenly the world is full of ironies.

1. Anything accessible = Anything acceptable ??

There have been controversies about whether business sector has right to be referred Facebook information when hiring/firing employees. The issue appeared when 25-year old female teacher was fired after her university seeing her “drunken pirate” picture. The Web enable us to access and get some information or source, I think that does not support the idea that there is also the right to invade other’s private life. I would like to talk about the Internet-related social issues in Korea. In 2005, two pictures were posted online, which generated a huge ripple effect in the society, and this issue even coined a term “dog-shit girl”. One picture showed a girl sitting with her dog, and there was dog poop on the subway floor. The other picture was about one old man cleaned the spot. And the guy who uploaded these pictures explained the situation that the girl just took off the subway, not cleaning her dog’s excretion, and the old guy did later. The girl’s behavior was obviously irresponsible and wrong. Afterwards people from all over the nation found and visited her social network web site and blamed and insulted her. She has suffered from serious psychological depression. At this point, it is necessary to question ourselves that “Does accessible equal to acceptable?” Some might think her behavior deserves to be blamed, so others’ insulting action could be acceptable. Although, the channel was accessible for many people to blame her, no one has right to hurt and destroy other’s life. In brief, social media amplify the chance of accessibility, however, it should not be interpreted as acceptability to damage individual’s private life. Social media give individual control power in some ways, at the same time, deprive one’s own control over one’s privacy. Then how can we prevent this crisis, before hurt other’s privacy?

2. What could be the best way to regulate privacy invasion problems on the Web? -Technological, Legislative, Judicial, Ethical solutions.

It is not simple to answer, because the solution can be applied differently according to the context and subjects. However, I think ethics should be considered first in all aspects. The most important thing is how people aware of the issue, since I think the privacy invasion is stemmed from lack of ethical mind. If individual person has ethical value, it would prevent many cases to attack individual’s private life, like the case of ‘dog-shit girl’. Social networking site likes ‘Diaspora’ and ‘openbook’ established based on the ethical value, also might contribute to educate ethical value to the public. I think these sorts of movement can prevent extreme cases, by raising the ethical awareness from the public sector. Rosen introduces ‘Tigertext’ or ‘Vanish’ as forms of technological supports that help deleting and expiring the data, etc. And I think these technological supports will contribute to reconstruct of forgiveness or forgetting. From my point of view, however, the awareness of privacy issue based on ethical value should always come first to create sound and mature digital environment. Probably this task should be considered more deeply for our younger generation. We should not rob their privacy while they do not know what they are missing.

3. Shouldn’t we consider an ‘action’ against user- generated Web site such as face.com, Unvarnished, Experian & Equifax ?

Although the world is not a humane and forgiving place, we sometimes need forceful and influential treatment to protect our privacy. While I was reading Rosen’s article, I should ask myself that how the websites like face.com, Unvarnished, Experian and Equifax have no problem to maintain and operate their business. The concept of these businesses goes beyond the line, ignoring and threatening human’s dignity. The information about your reputation marketplace, employability, and trustworthiness are offered by others without your realization. Obviously, employers checking applicant’s Facebook page to see whether the candidate is eligible to hire or not is wrong. And which is why there is some movement to make relevant policy or law. Even if the individuals in the organization are ethical enough, that traits could be ignored under priority of business profits. And it seems like the nature of the three the Web sites are originated from invasion of individual’s privacy. In consequent, our digital society needs proper and stronger regulation, restriction to handle privacy problem in business level.

4. Is that Facebook privacy setting only the problem?

Boyd discussed how younger’s are concerned about Facebook privacy setting in paper. It is desirable trend that people pay attention to their privacy issues, and become more familiar and confident to handle and adjust the privacy setting condition. However, I had to reconsider “are these only problems of Facebook?” There are some moments Facebook make me curious about its business. When you travel to other countries, and login Facebook, it asks you to verify yourself by matching your friend’s name with their pictures. But,,, really? Why just Facebook cannot set other verification questions like other web sites do? Why doesn’t it ask self-chosen preset questions like “What is your mother’s middle name?” or “What country you like most?” I sometimes want to ask Facebook that why you want to know more about my friends’ information by collecting their pictures? Facebook has changed private setting frequently, and make users confused many times. I think Facebook should be able to all its actions clearly before asking and collecting the extra information.

5. Would that be OK that we just have optimistic perspective towards privacy issues on the Web?

At the end of Rosen’s article, he introduced Gosling’s optimistic view. We have learned from our past, and the features of social media from our mistakes or others’ mistakes. Now, we know that our aggregated identities on the Web make it impossible for us to have segmented selves. Fortunately that does not only apply to me, but to many. Gradually people do not care so much about our drunken picture, and does not make a big of a deal from Facebook. We slowly learn forgiving others. When society has revolutionary change, there always have been chaos and suffering, but finally people find a point to adjust and negotiate this condition and their lives by creating law or increasing the awareness of mental value. I believe Gosling’s optimistic view should come true, but to attain that moment, we –individual, business sector, governmental organization should try to advance forwards to evolve our humanity, not regress backwards.

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About jungyoon

I'm a Public Relations graduate student at Michigan State University. I love travel, food and workout.

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