How Transparent Do You Think You Are?

Facebook does push the bounds of privacy. The site’s continual privacy changes are confusing. It has come to a point where I am weary to post information in case it is not filtered correctly.  Additionally, it has been difficult for me to keep up-to-date with their changes. (Perley Issac Reed School of Journalism, 2012).  I just don’t have the time to manage my account regularly. Hypothetically, I could post a joke for my friends and if not attentive, post it publicly if I am not aware of the latest privacy changes. What if this joke was viewed offensive by some? What if a prospective employer saw it? I find that it just might be better not to post any information and just use it as a way to keep in touch with friends.

It goes beyond filtering posts when it comes to privacy and Facebook. Sharing the most information about you and your interests is the company’s goal and moneymaker. According to Andrew Keen, CNN contributor, (2012), Facebook’s business model is creepy—it sells the personal data we willingly share to advertisers. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, justifies this further by stating complete transparency on the web which will bring people closer together. The company’s goal is to become “the operating system for the entire social web” (Keen, 2012). It utilizes social graph technology which aggregates information from content and apps, telling your friends and family what music you like, which books you are reading and who you voting for in the next election (Stark, 2012). I don’t think my mother needs to know that I am reading Fifty Shades of Gray or that I purchased a designer dress from hautelook.com. (Please note that these are examples and I do not lead this exciting of a life).

I think the trend toward web transparency is favorable. I also think it can be unfavorable. I believe in moderation on both sides of the issue. Transparency gives the web credibility. I am more likely to trust an online review from a person who uses their full name and origin than someone who is listed as anonymous. As users interact more online and people share details of their lives, it can lead to relationships. I began Intro to Digital Marketing and Communications, an online class, with four other students and a professor I had not met. I still have not met them in person, but we interact online, holding class-related discussions and sometimes not-so-class-related discussions. Through these interactions, we have built relationships, whether we realize it or not by sharing our opinions. Of course, opinion-sharing online can cause a backlash and can exposure you to extreme criticism. People have more courage to voice their opinion when they behind a computer or mobile device.  This leads to the flip side of web transparency—people who create false profiles on Facebook or participate in public forums. According to Mark Zuckerberg, this demonstrates lack of integrity. Christopher Poole, founder of 4Chan, a site where users can interact anonymously, feels that “anonymity fosters creativity, honesty, and authentic content sharing” (White, 2011).  I think if you create a Facebook profile, you should reveal your true identity. Your Facebook friends should know that they are really dealing with who you say you are. On the other hand, you don’t need to share everything. I really don’t care to know that you had to call the plumber because your toilet is clogged.  This infographic provides more detail about Facebook versus 4Chan: http://mashable.com/2011/08/04/transparency-infographic/.  4Chan does serve a purpose by allowing people to share their ideas in an open forum without fear of being bullied. I don’t agree with people using the site as a way to intimidate or troll users. If used responsibly, 4Chan can be an interesting way to share ideas.

References:
Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University. (2012). Assignment 9 – Challenges in a Digital Environment: Copyright, Privacy & Security. Retrieved from https://ecampus.wvu.edu

 White, C. (2011). Transparency vs. anonymity: where do you stand [infographic and poll]. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2011/08/04/transparency-infographic/

Stark, C. (2012). Facebook wants to own your social graph. Mashable. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2012/01/27/facebook-davos/

Keen, A. (2012). We must avoid Facebook’s creepy cult of transparency. CNN.com. Retrieved from http://articles.cnn.com/2012-02-02/opinion/opinion_keen-technology-facebook_1_mark-zuckerberg-facebook-social-network?_s=PM:OPINION

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