Internet Privacy Concerns In The 21st Century


A Rising Issue for Internet Users All Around The World

The creation of the internet has been revolutionary in changing the world and the society we live in. It has enabled to do things we may have never thought were possible 20 years ago. We can instantly communicate with others across the world through texts and chat. We can even see the faces of our loved ones as we video chat with relatives thousands of miles away. The internet along with technology such as the smartphone gives us unprecedented power in the palm of our hand; allowing us to access to unlimited information, social media platforms, health tracking applications, GPS guidance, online shopping and more. As our lives become increasingly intertwined with the internet and technology, our privacy is at stake. Our personal data is knowingly and more often, unknowingly gathered while we use the internet. This data includes, but is not limited to a person’s geolocation, purchasing habits, search history tendencies and social media posts. This collection of data unbeknownst to the user, is a cause for rising concern as users are not only unaware of what type of data is being collected, but also when it is being collected and what is is being used for.

The Overall Disapproval of Private Data Collection

As shown by the data below, there is a varying degree of acceptability in terms of private data collection. The approval or disapproval of private data collection is dependent on who is collecting the data and the reason the data is being collected. The survey responses show overall disapproval of data collection, even if the data is being collected for benevolent reasons such as suicide prevention or law enforcement. Individuals have and desire their right to their own privacy.

Surveyors showed a general acceptance of the government accessing private data to stop potential terrorist threats. This seems to reflect an acceptance from individuals for benevolent causes.

Contradictory to the data from the graph above, this data shows an unwillingness to release private data even though it is to aid in a criminal investigation.

Once again, individuals show a reluctance to reveal private data, even if it is for a moral reason such as preventing suicides.

Dr. Yeongick Jeong & The Authoritative Audience on Social Media

Our team had the chance to discuss Dr. Yeongick Jeong’s study on Privacy Concern on Social Networking Sites. His goal was to research what types of social media posts elicited privacy worries for users on Facebook and Twitter. We asked for his original reasoning on researching the topic in the first place. Dr. Jeong stated that his main reason for studying privacy concerns was based on the relationship that social media plays in student’s getting jobs. The study identified three types of audiences on social media which include marketers, distant relations and authoritative relations. The marketer audience group includes data collectors that are trying to gather information such as spending habits, general interests and more to effectively market their products/ services to individuals. The distant relations audience includes friends, family, strangers, and acquaintances that are on social media sites. Lastly, the authoritative audience includes parents, teachers, co-workers and potential employers. As social media continues to become more prevalent in our everyday lives, individuals seeking jobs have also become aware that potential employers check potential employee social media sites.

Our group wanted to delve into this topic as we found it particularly interesting and ever so relevant to our lives as we look to find jobs after graduation. We asked Dr. Jeong what exactly it is that these employers are looking for. Dr. Jeong claims that employers are mainly checking for any information that would reveal whether a potential employee is compatible with the potential employer. Employers are provided vital information like job experience and job-related skills on a resume. What employers cannot discern is whether a potential employee is compatible with the team that they may work with or the company in general. Related job experience is crucial to a team being able to perform their jobs but an unspoken necessity of successful teams is their ability to work well with each other. Are there any shared interests or hobbies that indicate whether the individual is compatible with existing members of the team? Dr. Jeong states that from the perspective of the employer, it is easy to find a person for the job, but it is hard to find a person that they want to work with. These factors can be further assessed during the interview process but employers can receive thousands of applications and a cross-reference to social media can narrow the selection.

Dr. Jeong also emphasized his notion that not only should an employee be compatible with a company, but the company should also be compatible with the employee. He says that he tells his students all the time that if an employer does not respect what you do and who you are as an individual, you should not work there. The relation of compatibility goes both ways for the employer and the employee.

After learning of the reason why employers check social media sites, we asked Dr. Jeong what are some ways that we can boost our chances with employers through social media. He introduced to us the concept of strategic use of social media which is when an individual includes information that an employer would want to see. This information includes a wide variety of things such as past school attendance, completed projects, club/ organization affiliations and more. A great example of this would be the strategic use of social media to help someone land a social media internship for a company. The individual could include their completed creative works including photos, videos, art and more. The company could see this body of work presented on social media and this could potentially boost the individual’s chances of landing the internship.

Current Day Social Media Privacy Concerns

We wanted to get Dr. Jeong’s opinion on privacy issues in recent current events. We brought up events such as the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal of 2018 and the recent banning of TikTok. The Cambridge Analytica scandal encompassed a privacy breech of millions of Facebook users. The information was unknowingly gathered to use for political advertising. Dr. Jeong argues that there ultimately needed to be more privacy regulation. TikTok was recently banned due to privacy concerns regarding China. Dr. Jeong explained to us the Marketplace Theory which allows for the best product or idea to survive. If the people consider TikTok to be the biggest privacy concern, then they will eventually fear it. Even with the allegations of privacy concerns and the restrictions imposed by the government. TikTok continues to be one of the most widely used social media platforms in the world. In accordance with the Marketplace Theory, TikTok seems to be the superior social media platform regardless of it’s privacy concerns.

We also wanted to hear Dr. Jeong’s thoughts on Facebook’s new virtual reality system, the Oculus. The Oculus previously required a simple Oculus account but it now requires users to login via Facebook. This requirement essentially gives Facebook unprecedented access to private information including usage, search habits, spending habits, and more. Watch Dr. Jeong’s response below!

Similar to TikTok’s continued use regardless of the privacy concerns associated it, Oculus users will accept the risk in order to use the device.

With all this great information provided to us by Dr. Jeong and his study, our group has been inspired to continue the professor’s study by expanding on research regarding privacy concerns in current society. Dr. Jeong’s study was done in 2014 and the social media world has changed significantly since then. Our group plans to research privacy concerns in 2020 and we are excited to add to his study. 

Read Dr. Jeong’s Study Below!

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