For those of you who may not know, social media is a means of interaction among people in which they establish, connect and exchange ideas in virtual communities. Popular social networking websites, such as Facebook (with more than 350 million users) and Twitter (with more than 50 million users) has caused people to be consumed by social networks. I myself like many others have become a social media consumer, in which I engage in these virtual communities on a daily basis. Upon reflection, I prefer to stay private within these social networking sites by privatizing my Facebook account and only accepting people as “friends” if I know them on a personal basis. Privatizing my Facebook account gives me a peace of mind as to what I share on Facebook with my family and friends because outsiders cannot access it. As a result, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and photos on Facebook which allows me to interact with my family and friends. My Twitter account however is open to the public, which enables me to share less personal information about myself with the users.
Author of “Cyberspace and Identity”, Sherry Turkle gave an account that in cyberspace “[w]e may find ourselves alone as we navigate virtual oceans, unravel virtual mysteries, and engineer virtual skyscrapers. But increasingly, when we step through the looking glass, other people are there as well” (Turkle 1999, 643). By the previous quotation, Turkle is opening our eyes to the realities of social networking, and suggesting that the Internet isn’t as private as we may perceive it to be. Anders Albrechtslund, author of “Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance” has similar views to Turkle on the subject. Albrechtslund acquainted the public with the term “participatory surveillance”. This term has predominantly been seen in the up rise of social networking websites. Participatory surveillance refers to Internet users who post all their personal information online where it can be seen by anyone with access to the internet (Albrechtslund 2008). Nowadays, many people do not keep their lives private online, and prefer to willfully post their entire lives on the Internet. Participatory surveillance violates our personal freedoms due to the fact that anyone in the world with access to the Internet can know many personal things about a person without their knowledge of it.
Nowadays, people have become accustomed to using the Internet and social media websites as outlets in their everyday lives. In “Places we don’t want to go”, Turkle argues that Facebook and Twitter feeds are intriguing to many people when they need a “friend who will listen when others won’t” (Turkle 2012). I have friends on Facebook that post statuses concerning everything they are doing at any given time during the day. Often times, people forget or are unaware that the Internet is a public space and can be viewed by anyone. Participatory surveillance can be prevented by understanding how open the Internet actually is and by limiting what you post online.
Albrechtslund, A. (2008) “Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance.” First Monday. 13,3
Turkle, Sherry. “Cyberspace and Identity” Contemporary Sociology Vol. 28, No. 6 (Nov., 1999), pp. 643-648 http://www.jstor.org.proxy.library.brocku.ca/stable/pdfplus/2655534.pdf?acceptTC=true
Turkle, Sherry. “Places we don’t want to go” at TED2012 http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012/