In today’s internet era, using the internet and sharing it on social media has become a daily routine for everyone and every day posts and photos from different internet users are uploaded on media platforms. Users’ media empowerment in social media has made social media the most popular form of media in today’s society. However, the use of users’ social media has also resulted in the disclosure of personal privacy, and users’ private information not only infringes on the users themselves, but also affects the political and economic situation. What are the current privacy leakage problems, and what are the causes and consequences of the privacy leakage problems? What is the current status of user privacy protection? How to better protect users’ privacy? These are the research questions of this study. This study will use the research method of combining literature research, content analysis and practical examples to analyse the privacy leakage problem of users in social media in depth.
- Current state of social media
With the robustness and development of social media sharing features in recent years, the use of tags and location targeting has become available everywhere, while we can search for keywords to get the information we want. However, this social media sharing function, which is found to be convenient, has also aroused the concern of Internet users as to whether the privacy of the posts and photos they share will be infringed upon and compromised, and how Internet platforms and social media companies can manage this phenomenon through effective monitoring.
- What are the current privacy breach issues?
Social media targeting features
Nowadays, taking photos and sending them to friends or sharing them on social media has become a kind of “ritual” in many people’s lives. At this time, the photo will usually be accompanied by a line of small words, which is generated by the real-time location of the cell phone geographic location information. But do you know that this kind of release positioning function exposes personal privacy, in fact, there are certain security risks. Through my survey statistics of my friends posting on social media platforms, greater than half of them share photos with location. Of course, I also add geolocation information while sharing photos. Many people consider adding geolocation information as an essential step every time they post photos of a big meal or outing to their social media platforms. Usually when people see the photos I share, they will comment on where I’ve been, so if I add geolocation information when I share the photos, it’s like telling people where I was, and it’s also a way to mark my visit to a certain place or attraction. However, when we use location features, our private information is being compromised. When someone else happens to be also searching for the same location we share, they can see what we share, it is a social media mechanism that when you search for a keyword or click on a geolocation shared by someone else, we can view the posts and photos shared by other users in it. It is a flow and use of digital content. Social media advocates specifically mention the forwarding, archiving, and selling of information online. Internet users are concerned that they have little control over the flow and use of their personal information (Marwick & boyd, 2014; Quinn, 2014; Tsay-Vogel, Shanahan, & Signorielli, 2018). This refers to the form of personal information, where it ends up, and how it is used.
- What are the causes and consequences of the privacy breach problem?
The reason for the possible infringement of user information and privacy is, on the one hand, that social media platforms, in the process of collecting and processing user information, have over-surveillance of user information due to profit or development reasons, resulting in the infringement of the user’s right to privacy. On the other hand, it is the improper collection, processing and dissemination of user information by other users of social media platforms that leads to the leakage of user privacy. ” There are four reasons for the leakage of user privacy: the blurring of the boundaries between the public and private spheres is a contextual factor; the characteristics of active users are a cultural factor; the value of user-produced content is an economic factor; and the balance between the space and time of the social platform is a technical factor.(Xiaoyan,2018)” So, every social media post and photo that we publish on social media is being collected as a big data, our “privacy” is being exposed, and all the content that we publish privately, in some cases, even stored and analyzed. But it’s not just social media, there is now a digital record of what we buy, what we watch, where we’ve been, and what happens around us, including our physical characteristics that can be tracked and stored, which is a serious violation of people’s privacy and security.
- What is the current status of user privacy protection? How to better protect users’ privacy?
The combination of these social media platforms in Web 3.0 has led to better integration, interaction, and more seamless movement between physical spaces for Internet users. However, ensuring data privacy in such systems is a potential challenge in this area. Recognizing the risk of user privacy violations and abuses, Internet companies and governments today are taking proactive measures to monitor and manage social platforms(Sara; Benjiamin; Nour, 2022). The issue of digital privacy is being discussed more and more, and social media platforms and governments are continuing to issue regulations to regulate internet platforms to prevent any more serious privacy breaches. However, searching at the current state of the internet, cases of digital privacy violations continue. The question regarding Internet regulation is whether digital platforms are considered to be exempt from such content standards, or whether their changing status as content intermediaries places them more within the purview of media policy and regulation. A trend towards greater regulation of digital platforms has emerged. Increasingly, digital media platforms are considered to be the subject of Internet regulation of media policy, as both policymakers and enforcers. Internet users are the victims of digital privacy infringement, so digital media platforms and governments’ decisions on digital privacy protection should be made in the interests of Internet users. Currently Internet users are passive about information collection and sharing. When they use a new software, they must passively choose to accept information collection and sharing, otherwise they can’t use the social platform function normally. Therefore, Internet users should have the right to make their own choices regarding the collection and sharing of user information by digital platforms. They have the right to choose whether the posts and photos they share can be searched or viewed by other users, which can partly reduce the risk of digital privacy violation. Users should also be careful not to post too much private information on media platforms, try using random nicknames, don’t disclose cell phone numbers home addresses, etc(Wolfgang’s Channel,2021).
Flew, T., Martin, F., & Suzoe, N. (2019). Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of digital media & policy, 10(1), 33-50. http://doi.org/10.1386/jdmp.10.1.33_1
Trepte, S. (2021). The Social Media Privacy Model: Privacy and Communication in the Light of Social Media Affordances. Communication Theory, 31(4),549-570. http://doi.org/10.1093/ct/qtz035
Salim, S., Turnbull, B., & Moustafa, N. (2022). Data analytics of social media 3.0: Privacy protection perspectives for integrating social media and Internet of Things (SM-LoT) systems. Ad Hoc Networks, 128(1). http://doi.org/10.1016/j.adhoc.2022.102786
Smith, M., Szongott, C., Henne, B., & Von, V, G. (2012). Big data privacy issues in public social media. 2012 6th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and Technologeis (DEST), 1-6. http://doi.org/10.1109/DEST.2012.6227909
Xiaoyan, Z. (2023). A Study of Users’ Social Media Use and Privacy Protection. Shandong Normal University.