Alison J. Harris

Librarian

blog

Online Privacy in Social Media

Everyone I discuss online privacy with has strong opinions on the subject. There are very real dangers for Internet users and it has changed how society interacts physically and virtually. Unfortunately, the scholarly article I read by Coye Cheshire and Judd Antin stating that those who are less trusting are actually less vigilant in their self-reported online behavior is not surprising. I have discovered myself that individuals who are most distrustful of social networking services do not practice safe online habits. This group needs the most assistance online and providing this help is vital. Behavioral targeting is one way to reach this community, but I concur that there is a fine line between offering help and infringing on a user’s privacy.

I frequently tell library customers not to post anything online you wouldn’t mind telling a complete stranger, because in reality that’s the potential for access. There’s simply no way of verifying a user’s actual identity online. Also, protecting your rights online is essential and California’s new state law regarding employer use of social media is definitely a step in the right direction. I recognize the advantage for job seekers, but forcing applicants to submit social networking account information is grossly negligent and opens companies up to possible civil rights violations.

I was surprised by ReadWrite’s statistics regarding the online habits of younger demographics. Schools, parents, and libraries put in a lot of energy preparing children and teens for online interactions, but the statistics for the 18 to 29 age group show this might not be effective. If future generations duplicate these habits, more and more personal information may turn up online.

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February 28, 2014 , Comment

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