The lecture this week can mostly be summed up by one of its featured quotes from NPR: “Nothing on the web is truly private.” I tend to really agree with this and think that people should be of the mindset that if you put it on the internet, assume EVERYONE can see it. Privacy is a luxury not afforded to those that choose to document their lives on Facebook or other social media outlets.
The lecture asked us how often we check our privacy settings and I will admit that I do not check them enough. In fact, I have been a member of Twitter for more than a year now and I can safely say I have not checked them since the first day I started. I have, however, gone into my Twitter settings to see which third party companies have access to my Twitter and have revoked many of those permissions. Truth be told, I wasn’t really surprised when the lecture estimated that around 13 million people have never looked at their privacy settings. It’s just one of those things that is not a concern until it is a concern.
We were also asked if social networks can do anything about privacy and helping users understand their various levels of control. I really enjoyed another quote from the readings that I think answer this question: giving increased control over privacy may lead to decreased privacy. The problem is that you opt-in to the less private option in most cases and then many people won’t be bothered to read the privacy settings. Therefore, I agree with the quote in that asking people more specific questions about their privacy settings will usually result in them not participating at all and opting in to the less private option.
From a journalism perspective, privacy can be quite interesting as well. I really enjoy the clips of the debate from the lecture that we get to watch and have an opinion about the question as to whether or not a journalist can use social media to connect with sensitive news situations. To me, a Facebook request is like ringing someone on the phone. They have caller ID and they have the right not to answer. However, once they choose to answer the phone or accept the friend request, they have begun to share information freely. That’s why in movies even as old as the Terminator, the target is told to stay off the phone and remain in the vehicle that is taking them away from the dangerous situation (typically some wood panel station wagon slightly older and dirtier than the rest of the cars on the street, but inconspicuous nonetheless). Or in more recent movies, the first thing people do when they are trying to hide is smash their phones; it’s just what needs to be done to remain private. Again, the “target” should know that “Nothing on the web is truly private.” I guess maybe because I am closer to a Millenial generation, but this just makes sense to me.