Knowledge Update

The Internet: Social Networking and Data Privacy Violations

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Do you mind a stranger monitoring your digital life, I mean tracking your calls, mining videos, pictures, text messages, and all the sites explored on your smartphone? Have you ever thought of a mobile application that pries what you do in your private space? It could be a spy when you are not aware, but what if your permission is sought and granted, could it still be an offense? Perhaps yes when you don’t know the depth of personal information gathered about you before granting access.

Advancement in the internet and internet of things technologies in a couple of decades has transformed information creation, dissemination, and consumption into a most flexible eased, and interesting experience. The unprecedented surge of the internet and the supportive internet-of-things resulted in agglutination and obsession with the technologies, particularly among teenagers and young adults who spent an hour navigating across a plethora of social media and none social media platforms to gratify their needs. It is quite a hard thing for the netizens to pass a day without exploring a social networking platform except perhaps they are eluded of connectivity. In some societies, excessive use of internet technologies poses the menace of social media addiction and fling such users into a pool of psychological and physical effects (Hughes, 2015).

Social media as a key player in modern communication succeeded in shrinking the globe into a village that can be explored by mere “clicking” on a palm-size device. The sites are so pervasive that they penetrate virtually every home, organization, institution, and sector knitting social, business, educational, and religious domains. The sudden growth of social media comes with both benefits and losses as it becomes a prime target of cybercriminals, corporate bodies, and the platforms’ developers who work tirelessly strategizing ways of tapping users' personal information for various criminal, commercial, and surveillance activities. Winseck, as summarized in Lyon, (2003), laments that valuable private information is generated in form of the user profile, customer details, or enrolment data while some of the systems are quite aware of the weakness of their data protection mechanisms. This situation is obtainable on virtually all social platforms.

Installation and signing up for certain mobile applications require “agreeing to the term and condition” part of which you give the application access to your media, Text, and sound on your device. Media in this context means all videos, pictures, and audio information; Text comprised text messages, documents in text form, and symbols; and sound encompasses calls, recorded voices, downloaded voices, and all auditory information including those on other platforms.

The ever-growing availability of big data; its spreading and the great impact it has on the human privacy risks prompted many companies to consider the integration of privacy requirements into their business model (CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada), observes that, if you do not pay for a product, you are then the product (CHI 2018, April 21–26, 2018, Montréal, QC, Canada).

Moreover, most social networking site subscribers use their mobile phones to access the platforms. According to 2022 research statistics, 98.5% access Facebook on their smartphones. Most cybernauts are destitute of the implication of exploring the sites on a smartphone, perhaps due to inadequate digital literacy, a behavior that often lands innocent cyber citizens into a barrage of unjustifiable abuse and violation of privacy.

The greatest mistake users often make is accepting cookies and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the platforms without reading the content. Most social networking site users lack the understanding of the privacy policies and settings, hence, allowing default settings that are prone to multifaceted violations from the applications designers, cybercriminals, and desperate economic tycoons. Unfortunately, the terms and conditions composed by such platforms are intentionally designed with semantic noise, lousy construction, and vague to smear reading appetite. Moreover, users should frequently be checking and customizing privacy and security settings to avoid violations. Similarly, European Union (EU), the USA, and Canada have laws that govern social networking sites in their countries, to avoid any stinking experiences. Therefore, all countries need to sensitize social users of these platforms in their country so that they explore the depth of internet safety.

Reference

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Mr. Bashiru Usman is working as a Lecturer in Skyline University Nigeria in the Department of Mass Communications. He has obtained a Masters’ Degree in Communication and Media Studies, Cyprus International University, Cyprus

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