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Privacy Invasion in Social Media Networks

PrivacyInvasion in Social Media Networks

Asocial media refers to a website or network of sharing,relationships, and connections. The current and leading examples ofthese sites are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr. The socialmedia networks use has exploded, with the number of users in thevarious web-based networking services rising up to millions. Socialmedia have now become an important part of the identity of the user.To create a social profile in these sites, a person must use theirpersonal information, and then sacrifice time and energy to maintainand manipulate it. Most of the social media networks users sharetheir private data which include pictures, likes, contacts, andactivities. Thesesites then collect a lot of their users’ personal information andsome of them proceed to use it for commercial purposes, that is, tomarket products and services, and thus invading the users’ privacy.

Initially,the social media networks’ main intention was to facilitate theconnection of users. Now, however, due to the financial benefits ofadvertisement, most of these networks have now sought various ways touse the subscribers’ personal information for commercial purposes.The social networking users are now facing the privacy impact ofthese large-scale sharing of information (Albarran 152). Most of thesubscribers feel troubled and they have expressed anxiety over thisunacceptable invasion of privacy.

Anotherconcern is the new trend where users continue to use their socialmedia networks are they are physically travelling from one place toanother, by using their smart phones. Those who use the common socialmedia networks such as Facebook on their smart phones are more activecompared to non-mobile users. This brings another privacy concern asthe users spread information faster and, therefore, leading toimmediate privacy breaches.

Privacyis an essential component of the freedom of an individual and it hasa key role to play in protecting the fundamental rights of people.Lack of appropriate levels of privacy diminishes the freedom of aperson. The social media’s failure to protect the private andpersonal information of users will negatively affect most peoplefamily, friends, workmates, relatives and others (Albaran 152).

Everyindividual possesses the right to share, access, change, block, anddelete their personal information. However, although the social mediasites allow one to hide the private information, they collect and usethem for commercial purposes. The users do not have legitimatecontrol over their personal information. The social networking sitesgains access to the subscribers’ personal information withoutobtaining their explicit consent at first. This act amounts to anunacceptable invasion of privacy since they do not have the right toaccess the users’ personal information. Users are now expressingconcerns about privacy in social media networks.

Thereis a conflict between the social media networks objectives andprotection of personal privacy. The main purpose of social mediasites is to promote sharing and connection of people. Although boththe sharing and protection can be considered to be evil by differentsocial media users, they should be allowed to define their ownprivacy preference, and be given assurance of the implementation ofthese preferences (Middleton and Lee 176).

SocialNetwork subscribers often participate in a number of protectedactivities, for instance, geographic location activities or relatedviews and opinions. This information is then shared by the owner andit can only be accessed by those who have a close relationship withthe owner, the social media site and others who are selected by theowner. The social network may then disclose this particular protectedinformation to marketers and thus affecting the owner who had neededprivacy. Facebook has frequently changed its privacy policies withoutgiving adequate notice to its users, for instance, in 2009 users weresurprised when they found out that the personal data they thought wasavailable only to their selected friends had been made public withouttheir consent.

Both the social media networks and the external marketing sites usethe private information in the social network to sell products andservices. Various marketing sites may deliberately share personalinformation on social media sites to market their products andservices the social network may then republish the information tothe rest of the world since they can harvest the information and alsomarket something for financial benefits. However, the individualwhose personal data has been used may feel good with it since he orshe did not give consent to the social network to use the informationand, therefore, his or her privacy will have been invaded.

Socialmedia networks such as Facebook shares the users’ personalinformation and contacts with marketing services and otherorganizations, and are now business assets for various onlineservices. This is a privacy breach since the person is the legitimateowner of his or her personal information and, therefore, has theright to protect or share such information (Straubhaar, LaRose andDavenport 485). In such a case, the social networks service providersare making use of the subscribers’ personal data for their owntrade purposes.

Socialnetwork sites also mine, measure, sorts and sell every bit ofinformation that is disclosed by the users. Websites owners nowmarket their products and transact using the social media sites. Thesocial networking sites then register the users’ activity in everypurchase activity, the expenditure, credit card information, locationand even passwords. In addition, the social media sites thenadvertizes the purchase to the friends in an attempt to increasetransactions. Moreover, the networking industry also attempts toanalyze every transaction and private information to be able tomaximize their profits.

Whenevera person posts something, likes a product or shares a photo on socialnetwork such as Facebook, he or she sends a large amount ofinformation to all people who are on his or her friends list, and tovarious marketing and advertising agencies, and also to salesmen andsocial researchers. Facebook obtains such information and shares themwith a number of marketing, advertising and spamming firms and,therefore, breaching the users’ privacy.


Theloss of privacy continues to rise as more and more users continue tosign up in social networking sites to share information with otherpeople. Social media developers now misuse them users’ private databy sharing it to marketing and advertising agencies without theirconsent. The use of subscribers’ personal information isunacceptable invasion of privacy and it should be put to stop sinceit affects the users in a number of ways with theft of privateinformation, self confessions and endless scrutiny.


AlbarranB. Alan. TheSocial Media Industries.Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2013.


MiddletonR. Kent and Lee, William. TheLaw of Public Communication: 2016 Update.

Abingdon-on-Thames:Routledge, 2015. Print

Rainie,Lee. The state of privacy in post-Snowden America: Fact Tank News inthe

Numbers.September 21, 2016. http://www.pewresearch.org accessed on 25 thNovember.

Straubhaar,Joseph, LaRose, Robert and Davenport, Lucinda. MediaNow: Understanding

Media,Culture, and Technology.Boston: Cengage Learning, 2015. Print