Jenny and Jacob broke up last night. Alex liked Isabel’s status, Carly had a bad day, Jeff got an A on his biology test, and Annie Just unfriended Jessica for the third time. I would have known none of this if I did not have a Facebook. Another example that our generation willingly shares too much information over Facebook. Facebook creates a sense of false security that encourages consumers to express nearly every thought online. This leads us to question, Just how private is life in the digital age of today?
With our steadily growing dependence on social media, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are preying off any personal information users post on their sites from their current location down to the use of algorithms based upon what advertisements clicked on and what posts we like. Users cannot control what others post on Facebook. Consumers can be associated, or tagged, in any posts or photos by “friends” regardless of the content of the post even without the approval of the user.
Many times this content is offensive, but Facebook does not protect the privacy of the person being tagged even if that person disagrees with the post they are mentioned n, the post cannot be deleted by anyone but the person who posted it. This false information paired with the public default setting Facebook has turned to, make it easy for potential employers and universities to get an idea of who someone is based on what is posted on their Facebook. 75% of employers use Facebook when researching a candidate, 85% then disqualify candidates if they find something.
This is particularly important because most employers have at least one employee that is knowledgeable enough about technology to hack into a Facebook profile, even when a profile is set to private. Is it our responsibility as the consumers to protect our own privacy or does this fall into the hands of the company, who has omniscient knowledge? With the new additions to Facebook, consumers are starting to become more protective over their rights to privacy. Consumers have the rights to privacy, or the right to determine what, to whom, and how much information about themselves will be disclosed to other parties.
With this is mind, the purpose of rights “is to enable individuals to pursue their significant interests and to protect these interests from the intrusions of others. (Velasquez 332) The idea of privacy is to ensure that others do not find information about us that could pose possible risks of blackmail, harassment, shame, ridicule, or other harm. Privacy prevents others from interfering with our plans simply because they do not have the same values as us or disagree with what we are saying. This is particularly prevalent among Facebook users because anyone can outwardly comment or disagree with their “friend’s” statuses.
In balancing the right to privacy and business needs, businesses must consider the purpose for which the data is collected. Consumers must receive some form of enefit for the action to be seen as ethical (Velasquez 333). In the situation with Facebook, it is evident consumers not only do not benefit from the sharing of their personal information, but in most cases, are harmed by it. While some may argue that target advertising is beneficial to consumers because it focuses on their specific needs, the harmful affects of data sharing far out number the pleasure of reading an interesting advertisement online.
Next comes the question of relevance. Databases containing information about consumers should only be given out for the direct purpose of which the database is being compiled (Velasquez 333). Despite this, personal information is used to enhance the advertising, which contradicts Facebooks mission, “To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. ” (mw. ‘. facebook. com) Users understand advertising is needed to keep the site free, but to what extent does advertising interfere with our safety on the Internet?
The final two questions of privacy are the most prevalent to our investigation of Facebooks ethical issues. Is the consumer informed about the information being collected and the purpose for which it is going to be used? Under this rule of alancing the right to privacy with business needs, consumers should not only have knowledge of how their information is being shared, but consumers hold the right to decline in revealing information about themselves they do not want to reveal (Velasquez 333, 334). In the world of social media, sites must adapt to stay ahead; Facebook is no exception to this concept.
Facebook is constantly changing the way information is presented on their site. The most recent change caused uproar, drawing complaints of “too much information about friends,” and if users are complaining about how much they know about their friends wouldn’t they be hocked to know the large amount that people or companies outside of their circle of friends know about them? It is common knowledge that Facebooks funding comes through advertising. To keep the site free for users, advertisements on the sidebar of Facebook are a necessity.
That is not the issue we are raising, rather the way in which advertising has evolved into a deeper issue of the invasion of privacy and personal targeting by advertisers. Facebook takes information from sites users click on most frequently and sells that information to advertisers in order to make the advertisements users see more prevalent to their personal interests. If a user were to click on ESPN or “like” a page about an NFL team, advertisements would likely include local sports teams. Yet, it is not Just viewing different sites while on Facebook or liking a certain page that advertisers know about Facebook users.
Facebook uses “supercookies” to track every page you visit, even while not logged into Facebook. Supercookies are powerful new and legal techniques used to to track people’s online activity without being detected by users. (http://www. washingtonpost. com/blogs/ blogpost/post/supercookies-web-sites-are-now-using-them-how-to-get-rid-of-them/ 011/08/18/glQAzT7hNJ_blog. html). Entrepreneur Nik Cubrilovic says, “Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions. Cubrilovic warns users, “Don’t write anything on Facebook you wouldn’t want to have to read in court. ” He expands this to say that now with the new Facebook rules, we have to broaden this to disclaimer to, “Don’t click on any website that you wouldn’t want to be revealed in court. ” (http://www. forbes. com/ ites/chunkamui/2011108/08/facebooks-privacy-issues-are-even-deeper-than-we- knew’). Advertisers are given information about where you live, your age, your gender, and what type of posts or statuses you typically like via Facebooks “supercookies. An explanation for why advertisements on your personal Facebook are for the San Jose area, involve renting text books, or pertain to the sorority you are in. Facebook knows your interests and uses this information to find advertisements and companies you may be more susceptible to enjoy or buy from. Users overlook this too frequently. Many of us are ignorant to Facebooks advertising strategy while thers avoid the idea because there would be a fee if Facebook did not advertise. Facebook is preying on our vulnerable interests by engraining in users minds that advertisements are coincidental.
The new section “top stories” is designed to derive and show users stories they might like based on an algorithm that considers which friends you interact with most and what advertisements you click on. Users are finding this a violation of privacy because of Facebooks delving into their past Features such as the ‘see more posts’ on a user’s wall can no longer be changed, even in the personal privacy settings. Now the public can access all posts, regardless of the date they were posted. Facebook defaults users privacy settings to public, even for when new changes are made, regardless of what the personal settings were prior to the change.
As a result, many posts became public that users were unaware of. Consumers are finding it harder to change these privacy settings due to the new complications and changes. Users are often unaware when these privacy settings are changed too, as consumers we have to be constantly aware of potential changes and how to keep what we want private truly as private as possible. Facebook now displays data at the top of each users profile, giving viewers quick knowledge about the person’s page they are viewing.
This information includes high school, college, what you studied in college, birthday, current location, hometown, and languages spoken. Facebook is riskier to use with the new technology created to scam users by advertisers. Another big concern for users originates in the issue of who has access to their information? Who can see what you post on Facebook? Essentially everyone since friends of friends can see what you post. Say I have 600 friends, each of those riends has 600 friends and each of those friends have 600 friends.
Based on this example, the number of people that can see exactly where and when you posted something is exponentially limitless. The average user has 130 friends, but for college students the estimated figures are higher. How many of these friends do we actually know? And how many other people can see your information even when your profile has been set to private? Once something is on the Internet, especially on Facebook, there is no way to ever really delete it. Facebook still holds the record of the post or comment even when users attempt to delete it.
In the study CMU researchers relied solely on Facebooks public profile information and facial recognition software to identify otherwise anonymous match. com profiles. (http://www. forbes. com/sites/chunkamui/ 2011/08/08/facebooks-privacy-issues-are-even-deeper-than-we-knew/. ) Our privacy on Facebook is equivalent to our privacy on the Internet, which is nonexistent. Companies are able to easily figure out personal details such as social security information, work history, and credit reports Just from the information provided via Facebook.
Although Facebook has withdrawn some of its new technologies because f security risks, other companies now have access to Facebooks concept of face recognition and will continue to develop this technology to use it to their advantage. Facebook has continued to tarnish its image in the business world with its ongoing expansion of public information. The issue goes beyond social media sites such as Facebook; it becomes a snowball affect of what information on Facebook enables other sites and companies to do. The problem will only get worse as Facebook continues to pursue a more public profile.
Has the issue become so large that Facebook can no longer protect their loyal consumers? Will Facebook attempt to protect us, or continue to sell us out to gain revenue and popularity among advertisers and scammers? Facebook is forced to push the boundaries to be ahead, to be the first and most innovative. Part of this is the nature of the technology and social networking of today, but consumers demand new features too. In May 2010, CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly apologized for what he called “the companies privacy mistakes. After the recent uproar and the proposed settlement with the FTC, Zuckerberg again proclaimed, “I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes,” on the topic facebook_privacy/). Lawmakers have introduced more than a dozen privacy bills in Congress this year with users online privacy rights as the main focus. The heart of this movement targets Facebook. “Facebook is obligated to keep the promises about privacy this it makes to its hundred of millions of users,” says The US Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
Leibowitz later argued, “Facebooks innovation does not have to come at the expense of consumer privacy. The FTC will ensure it will Facebook does not warn users or ask for consent when there will be a change in the default settings or the way other users view your profile. In December of 2009, Facebook changed its privacy settings to make most aspects of the users profile public by default. Facebook promised users it would not share their information with advertisers, but did so anyways according to the FTC.
Data was shared with the majority of third party applications despite claims against the sharing of personal new settlement, Facebook would be banned from misrepresenting the privacy level of consumers in regards to their personal information. Facebook must also have consensual agreement from users before it changes the way it shares their information. The company’s privacy policies would also be under scrutiny of an independent auditor for the next 20 years if the settlement holds. (http:// can change privacy settings, few users adjust the settings or find them too complicated.
Facebook has increased the amount of personal information that is made public by default in order to please advertisers. Even after users deleted an account, according to the FTC, access to the users photos and videos was still allowed. Facebook gave out personal information even when the users thought their agrees-to-ftc-settlement-on-privacy. html). Our own Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University law professor, commented on the issue, “We’ve all known that Facebook repeatedly cuts corners when it comes to its privacy promises, like most Internet companies, they thought they could get away with it.
They didn’t. ” (http:// privacy. html). Due to the advancements in communication technologies and database software, personal information has been dispersed and manipulated on the Internet causing mass invasions of consumer privacy. Of the 20 million minors who actively use Facebook, 7. 5 million were found to be younger than 13 and therefore not supposed to be able to use the site. Among the 7. 5 million, more than 5 million were found to be 10 or younger. (http:// www. consumerreports. org/cro/magazine-archive/2011 ‘June/electronics-computers/ state-of-the-net/facebook-concerns/index. htm).
To engage in a valid contract, both parties must have full knowledge of the nature of the agreement, neither party can misrepresent the facts of the contract to the other party, the contract must not bind either party to an immoral act, and neither party can be forced to enter the contract under coercion (Velasquez 98). For a contract to be legally valid both parties must be f consensual age, in technical terms both must be legal adults and have full knowledge of what they are consenting to. Facebook violates these terms by allowing 13 year olds to sign up for their site by simply signing a contractual agreement.
The contract should not be valid because these individuals do not have the knowledge to consent due to their age. In technical terms, users aged 18 and over “give” their consent to Facebook when they sign up and agree to the terms. With this in mind, Facebook exploits consumers’ consent when they change the way information is presented on their site without the pproval of the user. Facebook is ethical in their collection of personal information provided that the information given by consumers is used for the purpose for which the consumer consented to have it used.
Users are not implicitly or explicitly told their information is going to be given to third party sites and advertisers. Facebooks data policy states, “We only provide data to our advertising partners or customers after we have removed your name or any other personally identifying information from it, or have combined it with other people’s data in a way that it is no longer associated with you. Similarly, when we receive data about you from our advertising partners or customers, we keep the data for 180 days. After that, we combine the data with other people’s data in a way that it is no longer associated with you. (https://www. facebook. com/about/privacy/your-info#inforeceived). In recent studies with the FTC, Facebook was found to have violated this term. Under the accuracy clause, Facebook should allow users to see all information collected about them in order to change any potentially false or inaccurate information about the individual. There is no way to check the validity of posts on Facebook, either by users r about them. This leads toa large potential for Facebook to misrepresent consumers to third party companies, advertisers, and employers.
This seems to be Facebooks way around everything, put it in the fine print, no one will take the time to read it, and then they are covered later on when our information is exploited. In most cases this has worked, we are angry when our information is given out to unreliable sources, but we “signed” the contract, therefore we cannot complain. However, Facebook has found themselves under much scrutiny as of late, especially since their privacy isclaimer has been seen by the FTC as unacceptable and invalid.
Facebook has violated their own privacy terms and by doing this sets a negative example for consumers’. Facebook will continue its cyclical action of apologizing when forced to by the legal entities placed against it, but in the end does not take the proper course of action to protect consumers’. None of this will change until users stop taking their privacy rights lightly and start demanding the protection they deserve. Until Facebook sees a negative change in their profits and the amount of users actively using Facebook, the problem of consumer rights will continue to expand.