Information Safety in Social Networking Systems

This paper will carry out a critical review of three articles with different viewpoints on the privacy of individuals who are part of a social networking site, whether or not the kind of information shared on these sites makes them vulnerable or not, and what conclusions can be drawn from these articles.

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There will be included a reference list to acknowledge sources used in the paper.

Review of article one

The Right to Privacy is Not a Right to Facebook. 2010 , The Information Technology And Innovation Foundation Website.

By Daniel Castro

In his article, Daniel Castro argues that SNS (social Networking Sites) should not be blamed for the private information of individuals being put in the public domain because users willingly sign up on these sites and agree to the terms of conditions of use. It is not as though they are coerced or tricked into joining the sites.

Daniel argues that it is only in the case where an SNS infringes on the terms of use signed up for by a member that it becomes of legal concern. The author says that what is of greater interest is what are the boundaries to which an SNS can go when using information and statistics gathered from its users to develop new products.

Daniel Castro’s argument is that people have to come to grips with the fact that companies will keep finding ways to use personal information found on the internet for their own ends. What is more important right now, is that people should now find ways to adjust to work from this point because it is a fact that will not change.

The author exhorts very strongly that the luck of privacy on SNSs is a given, and that users should learn to deal with it, or opt out of the game all together. Drip contends that the damage done form private information made public on these networking sites is limited, and that the ruckus raised over manipulation of private data on SNSs is overblown. He is of the opinion that the risk posed by disclosing personal information is far outweighed by the benefits of using SNSs such as Facebook in terms of staying in touch, learning and networking. He believes it is up to the user to remain vigilante so as not to be open to abuse.

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Review of article two

Privacy in Social networks, in Internet Language. 2010.

By David Drip

Drip focuses his article on analyzing the harm that can come to users of social networks because of the exposure of personal information. Drip begins by defining Social Networks Systems (SNS) as being a virtual platform or community where friends keep up with each other through pictures, text updates and video. Drip classifies the information shared on SNSs as falling into two categories: referential-meaning that it refers to an individual directly, and attributive- this is information that tells more about a person.

Drip then goes ahead to explain the different ways in which information shared over SNS can harm an individual. Because information on the virtual platform disseminates very fast, and the author cannot control what others who have access to the information do with it, it at times ends up in the wrong hands. Drip’s first point is that the owners of the SNS can use targeted advertisements to gather information about users for ambitious marketers, and the user is not protected against this. His second argument is that with retrieved personal information such as employer, and Social Security Number in the wrong hands, mischief can be done to the user or in the name of the user.

Drip takes a completely opposite stand from that taken by Daniel Castro. He believes firmly that the sharing of private information on SNSs should be more controlled, and that there should be more stringent guidelines to protect the user. He points out that the user is not even safe from the owners of the SNSs who build digital profiles on them, and trade-off these to product builders. Drip says that a user on a social networking site exposes himself or herself to the dangers of identity theft, scammers, stalkers and other such unsavory characters.

Drip winds up by outlining the three stages in which information is processed on the internet: one it is collected-the user uploads information onto the internet, two it is processed, and at the last stage it is disseminated. He concludes that the user on an SNS is not well protected, is left too vulnerable and open to exploitation.

The Review of article three

Information revelation and Privacy in online social networks: the Facebook Case.

By Ralph Gross and Alessandra Acquisti

This article takes a more in-depth analysis of privacy settings on SNSs, with a focus on Facebook, specifically Facebook users in Carnegie Mellon University. The author conducted a research to determine how private information posted by students onto their profiles can be used to compromise their safety or cause damage.

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The author started by gathering demographic information of Facebook users at CMU, and discovered that the average age of people using Facebook at MSU is roughly twenty one years. He noted that most users had about a circle of ten to thirty friends with whom communication is on a regular basis, and between hundreds to a thousand or more acquaintances the user does not necessarily know very well. He adds that users share information freely because of the feeling that they are amongst people they can trust.

In regards to privacy, the author points out that most users reveal a great deal of personal information like names, birthdays, place of residence and work, hobbies, and links to other networks to which they may belong. He adds that the figures from the research indicate that eighty percent of the Facebook users did not limit the access that people who are not their friends have on general information to be found on their profiles.

The author draws the conclusion that from the amount of private information that users freely displayed on Facebook, it appears the users are not overly troubled by who sees this information. This, he says, makes them vulnerable to violation both virtual and physical if a malicious person has such intentions in mind. He points out some of the dangers as being stalking, identity theft, re-identification, hacking into email address accounts, collection of personal data to make a dossier, and manipulation. He finalizes the paper by saying that since Facebook, like most other networking sites, builds networks that go beyond our immediate friends and there are instances where private information shared can land in the wrong hands and be misused.

This article is very constructive and instructive. The author uses facts and statistics to illustrate how Facebook compromises privacy, how Facebook users view their own privacy, and what private information can be most harmful to an individual. The author applies in-depth research and analysis to present the case, then leaves the reader to make his/her own conclusions about whether SNSs do more harm or more good.

References

Castro, D (2010). The right to privacy is not a right to Facebook, April 30. The Information Technology And Innovation Foundation. Web.

Drip, D (2010). ‘Privacy in social networks’, Internet Language. Web.

Gross, R, and Acquisti, A (2005). Information revelation and privacy in online social networks: the Facebook case. Carnegie Melbourne University. Web.

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