Western society has always had certain expectations of privacy that have been disturbed or reaffirmed at various times in history. We didn’t want this journalist, that politician, or this law enforcement agency trampling on our rights to do what we want (as long as others aren’t hurt as a result) during the personal times in our lives.
Things have changed. Privacy is quickly becoming an illusion for many who utilize social media. The somewhat odd part is that very few seem to actually care.
If someone were to ask a person if they would be willing to broadcast their physical whereabouts whenever they go to the store, leave town, or visit, well, anywhere, most would have said that it’s a dumb idea that nobody would ever buy into. Tell that today to Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any of the other location-based social media services.
Our expectations have changed. Rather than “stay out of my business” the mantra for many is “look at what I’m doing now.” For others, the expectations are the same but they simply don’t understand how public their postings are. According to MDG Advertising, 68% of Facebook users do not understand the social network’s privacy settings.
As a general rule, one should understand that using social media inherently disrupts privacy. It’s possible for users to have their privacy settings in order, but even then it has been proven time and again that “private” has various levels of reality in the definition. Those who do not mind having what they post on social media accessible to someone (whether it’s simply friends and family or even governments) are keen to continue to use it. Those who want true privacy should simply avoid social media altogether.
This infographic by MDG breaks down the sad state of social media privacy.