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Social media’s affect on privacy

by BRIANNA SICILIANO Photo/Video Editor

How many social media websites are you on? How many times a day do you check up on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Instagram accounts? Are there any risks of using these sites? These are all valid questions to ask.

Since social media sites have gained popularity, people have been reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and sharing information in a way that would never be possible without websites such as Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Facebook, millions of families and friends are keeping in touch worldwide. Within seconds, a person can see pictures that their friends are uploading, no matter where each person is in the world.

Facebook also serves as a calendar, keeping track and reminding you of your family and friends’ birthdays. Where would our society be without this handy site?

“Without Facebook’s birthday reminders, I would never know whose birthday was when. I only go on Facebook to find out about my friends and family members’ birthdays. Now, my newest social media obsessions are Twitter and Tumblr,” said an anonymous sophomore.

Similar to Facebook, Twitter has helped bring friends together. The site’s user-friendly appeal brings people together within seconds, whether they are friends, family, celebrities, or fans.

“Thanks to social media websites, I have made friends who love the same singers that I do. It is nice to connect with people who have similar interests,” said junior Maryluz Carvajal.

Without Twitter, it would be tough for celebrities to promote their new movies, books, songs, and merchandise. Likewise, it would be tough for celebrities to keep their fans up to date on their life. Thanks to Twitter, millions of people around the world were able to see Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the Oscars.

Social media has definitely left a positive impact on society, but what about its negative effects?

Almost every social media website has created an option for users to check-in to the place they are currently in. When a young girl is visiting Disneyland for the first time, she wants to announce it to all of her closest friends. What she does not know is that her check-in on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram is something that the entire world can see.

Because of social media, people tend to be much more open about their personal lives than they were in the past. People now have outlets where they can say what is on their mind, all while posting pictures of everything they do. Each and every person knows about that one person who posts every event of their day to day life: from waking up to quitting their job, some people share a bit too much.

With all of their freedom, people seem to forget that their personal and private lives are open to the public.

If a high school student was to Tweet hateful remarks about a college tour, the school would be able to see what the young man had said. And if that student was previously accepted into said school, his tweet would be taken into consideration, possibly resulting in a change of heart over his acceptance.

Four years ago, a Massachusetts high school teacher lost her job because she posted about her students on her Facebook page. June Talvitie-Siple called her students “germ bags” while calling their parents snobby and arrogant. Talvitie-Siple was not aware that her Facebook privacy settings allowed people who were not her friends on the site to view her posts and comments.

“I take full responsibility for my stupidity and I hope it serves as an example to kids that they need to be very, very vigilant about their privacy,” Talvitie-Siple told ABC News.

Not too long ago, Roland Martin was suspended from CNN because his tweets during the Super Bowl were offensive about David Beckham’s underwear ad, along with tweets about a New England Patriots player.

Regulating a person’s behavior on social media networks is not only important for people who are already part of the work force, but it is important for those who are searching for jobs as well.

According to MSNBC, a study conducted by Microsoft in 2010 showed that 70 percent of company recruiters have denied applicants based on information they found online. The article suggests that people – students in particular – increase their privacy settings, pay attention to privacy policies, and become more cautious when cameras are around. If a picture of you from last week’s party surfaces on social media, you never know if future employers will see that image or not.

“I found out the hard way that everything you post on social media websites remains in the cyber world for a very long time. When I looked up my name, I found old pictures of and posts that were uploaded years ago. Things on the internet do not go away when you forget about them. Now that it is time to look into colleges and get jobs, it is important for students to be more careful with what we say and post,” said junior Hiral Patel.

A valid question would be to ask yourself, what information is public for the world to see? Well, there are two kinds of information that people can gather about a user from social media sites: information that is taken through electronic tracking and information that is shared.

Information that is gathered from a user’s actions online is usually tracked by using “cookies” (short strings of text stored on one’s hard drive). These cookies can track which websites a user has viewed, track the user’s movement from one website to another, build a profile around a user, and store information that is associated with specific websites (for example, shopping carts that users considered – or decided to – buy.

Information that users share includes photos and other media, age and gender, biographical information (including hometowns, education, employment history, etc.), status updates, contacts, interests, and geographical locations.

No matter what social media websites you are on, it is important to realize that what you post online is not the same as what you would tell a close friend in confidence. You never know who is looking at your posts online.

If you would not feel comfortable with an employer reading what you plan on posting, then do not post those words online so the entire world can see.

Will you take actions to protect your privacy on social media sites?

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