Social Media and Internet Privacy for Consumers

Enjoy today’s guest post by freelance writer Becky Wilcox.


Over the last 10 years, social media sites have been growing rapidly. They have become a main way to connect and communicate for individuals, and the youth of today, having grown up with this as their “normal”, are always connected.

But there are dangers and concerns from being so openly exposed. As technology advances so rapidly, it can be hard to keep up with the rapid changes in privacy policies. As consumers, we need to be properly informed, to protect ourselves as we enjoy the benefits of social media sites.

Social media sites are not just for teens and recreational communication. In 2009, a report from Careerbuilder.com cited that 45% of employers surveyed said they used social media sites to screen potential employees. That had almost doubled as compared to the previous year. Other research has suggested that at least 82% of hiring managers using social media to screen their potential employee candidates.

Top Five Social Media Privacy Concerns

If you follow Reputation.com on Twitter: @Reputation_Com, or look on their website, you will quickly understand their top five concerns regarding privacy on social media websites:

  1. Be diligent about privacy when merging social media websites
  2. Single access sign-on can raise red flags for security and privacy
  3. Watch for new website security restrictions and universal legislation
  4. Walking a fine line between effective marketing and privacy intrusion
  5. Social media websites using location-based services need to avoid privacy nightmares

With all of the convenience these sites provide, the reality is that they also introduce hidden or unrealized pitfalls and danger zones. As consumers, we need to remember that this is about business. Business is what will ultimately motivate the social media companies’ decisions. For instance, in the case of the single sign-on, you may be able to sign-on once and have access to multiple social media platforms. Although this is convenient, these platforms may begin to share information with each other, and you may not find out until it is too late.

If you sign up for a Gmail account, Google automatically sets up a Google+ page for you. There is no notice of this to the Gmail customer, but any information you have in your mail account will automatically port over to Google Plus, where the whole world may be able to see it. You may think you only have an e-mail account and never know that your private information is available to anyone.

Because of the growing use of social media, new lawmakers beginning to understand the importance of governance over its uses. Pennsylvania recently passed House Bill #2332, known as the Social Media Privacy Protection Act. This bill protects the right of the employee or potential employee, so they do not have to share the username or password to their private account. This keeps the employer from firing or refusing to hire someone because of their antics on private social networks.

Summary

Social media does make communication easier and more open than ever before. But individuals, as well as lawmakers, will have to remain diligent with protection, because these sites are in it for the business and bottom line. The customer will always be secondary to those desires.


About the Guest Contributor

Becky Wilcox is a freelance writer that loves to author content on a number of different topics, such as social media and technology. In her spare time, Becky likes to try new dishes in the kitchen and maintain a healthy lifestyle.