Social Media and Privacy

Research Question

Do social media result in privacy infringement among the people in Canada?

Problem Statement

Over the recent past, the world has witnessed increased uptake of social media and the use of internet. In particular, Canada has witnessed tremendous growth in the number of people accessing social media through mobile devices as well as laptops. In this foregoing, the use of social media has exposed millions of people to privacy infringement as voluminous information is shared via the social media. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social media sites have the capacity of accessing personal information from the users and transferring the same to different databases. There is no denying that social media is an anathema to the existence of privacy among the citizens of Canada and indeed any other part of the world. Initially, the goal of such social media sites was to facilitate the exchange of ideas, humor, and emotions. However, the realms within which users share over the social media has transformed in recent years to include the sharing of information otherwise not consented to by the users (Sanchez et al, 2012). This development poses a huge problem to the privacy of Canadians.

The use of social media is highly effective in enhancing interactions between people from different locations. Indeed, social media is a virtual meeting place for the world with huge volumes of information shared on the platform. The risk with this platform is that it may fall within the wrong hands such as terrorist groups thus putting the safety of millions of Canadians in danger. There is a huge chance that following increased terrorist activity in the world, Canadians may grapple with further restrictions beyond the Bill C-51. In the wake of such attacks, Canadians may have to do with increased restriction of encryption technologies that are currently employed in both private and public spheres (Smith et al, 2011). Although increased information sharing as necessitated by social media is a positive thing, it has the potential of destroying the privacy of Canadians. For instance, the sharing of a picture of a manager in a beach clad in a bikini may wash away the respect that they have worked very hard to build and expose their privacy to subordinates.

Topic Analysis

It is no doubt that social media is a powerful tool in the facilitation of information sharing. Indeed, social media has been instrumental in the attainment of modern goals that wouldn’t have been achieved today, at least not within such timeframes. For instance, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been used to plan for demonstrations leading to the ouster of dictators in Africa. However, the saw of social media cuts back and forth and has the potential of infringing on the privacy of users (Steinman & Hawkins, 2010). In addition, users of social media have little control over their privacy as information posted on social media is available to billions s of users in real time. It is not surprising that memes can go viral within hours of their posting thus resulting in irreversible consequences on the parties involved. While it is not easy to cushion the users against such privacy infringement, the world should reconsider the role of social media in as far as privacy and security of users is concerned.

The sharing of information on social media may help in the creation and strengthening of communities. However, the same may pose imminent threats to the security and privacy of users as information is shared with strangers. The publishing of too much information in a usually non regulated social media sphere poses obstacles that infringe on the privacy of those involved. For instance, it is quite common to come across court cases that are built around evidence collected from social media and especially in divorce hearings. Pictures of buddies partaking in drinking in a party may resurface in a divorce court hearing and be used to rule on the custody of the children for example. In other instances, employees seeking for a competitive edge in job promotion may cite information shared via social media to disqualify their competitors. These examples reveal the very nature of social media as a potentially dangerous platform with regard to the safeguarding of privacy. Canadians are particularly at risk of the daunting challenge of privacy owing to gaps in the current regulations.

Still, the infringement of privacy of social media users extends to include criminal activities within and outside the country. Jiang et al (2013) point out that criminals have also increased their knowledge of use of social media and lurk behind the posts made on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These people are on the constant look out for susceptibilities to exploit through the identification of easy targets to attack. The owners of social media companies share in the belief that an increase in the power of sharing information will increase their profits. In this regard, they are also on the lookout for improvements to make social media more efficient in the sharing of information. Most of these websites are structured in a manner that is coercive and that tricks and taunts people to share their personal information as well as their thoughts and opinions regarding mutual issues. For instance, the choice of friends and posts made may communicate a lot of information regarding a certain user. Patterns of posts and likes may also communicate different tastes and opinions among the concerned users.

With the increased sharing of information, privacy infringers have an increased opportunity to mine, sell and even sort personal information from users (Belanger & Crossler, 2011). Today, social media has encouraged the use of online transactions as another form of revenue generation for their companies. With this development, the potential for privacy infringement is even higher thus multiplying the risks associated with it. Every transaction completed on social media sites captures personal information that may be misused thus posing a privacy threat to the user. It is quite the norm for online companies to send bugging emails and messages to users of these online sites whenever they have new products with little regard to the consent of the user. The use of social media sites may also present a security threat as users upload their credit card information that may fall within the wrong hands. The nature of these sites is that they try to maximize information collection for every interaction of transaction initiated by the users. Consequently, social media poses an increased threat of privacy infringement.

Recommendations and Conclusions

The discussion reveals that social media is not a mere point of interaction and socialization. Indeed, despite helping in the creation of communities, social media is a conduit for the loss of personal information among users. In addition, social media sites are structured to maximize the participation of users thus minting as much information from the users as possible. Every transaction or interaction initiated on social media has the potential of infringing on the privacy of the user (Smith et al, 2011). In fact, it is quite common for information collected from social media to be used outside these realms to make far reaching decisions. For instance, the use of photos posted in social media s evidence in divorce court cases is on the rise despite being an affront on the privacy of users. Clearly, therefore, social media is directly results in the infringement of privacy of Canadian users.

The very nature of social media is structured to encourage the mining of personal information. However, this does not mean that privacy infringement through social media cannot be achieved. One of the most practical recommendations is to enact regulations to regulate the use of private information by social media companies. In addition, the government should ensure that companies comply with the existing regulations regarding the handling of private user information and that they do not extend the same to third parties (Steinman & Hawkins, 2010). Another solution would be the guarantee of user consent before their information is used. Companies should be made to reveal the intended use of information with annual audits conducted to ensure compliance. In this way, Canadians can be guaranteed of their right to privacy as well as a continued use of social media for both interactions and transactional engagements.



Bélanger, F., & Crossler, R. E. (2011). Privacy in the digital age: a review of information privacy research in information systems. MIS quarterly, 35(4), 1017-1042.

Jiang, Z., Heng, C. S., & Choi, B. C. (2013). Research note—privacy concerns and privacy-protective behavior in synchronous online social interactions. Information Systems Research, 24(3), 579-595.

Sánchez Abril, P., Levin, A., & Del Riego, A. (2012). Blurred boundaries: Social media privacy and the twenty‐first‐century employee. American Business Law Journal, 49(1), 63-124.

Smith, H. J., Dinev, T., & Xu, H. (2011). Information privacy research: an interdisciplinary review. MIS quarterly, 35(4), 989-1016.

Steinman, M. L., & Hawkins, M. (2010). When marketing through social media, legal risks can go viral. Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 22(8), 1.


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