Internet, Facebook privacy available as personal choice
By Daniel Robb ’10
The expansion of the Internet’s user base and sharing capability has brought with it many benefits, but also many concerns.
One of the biggest we’ve seen is that of privacy.
This concern has been exacerbated by the large expansion in the use of social networking sites like Facebook.
But are these concerns warranted? Who are the threats, and who are the victims?
One point of discussion is the use of Facebook by schools in order to incriminate students.
While this has not yet happened at Brophy so far as we know, there are stories of students in other schools being punished or even expelled for something an administrator saw on Facebook. But I’m not sure this in particular is that big of an issue.
For one, privacy settings on Facebook can easily prevent these sorts of breaches from happening.
But the main issue is probably whether schools should or should not have the right to use Facebook for these purposes.
I would say that depends on what settings the user has chosen.
The Internet is no longer a completely public realm due to certain mechanisms that have been developed for privacy.
If, for whatever reason, the student has chosen to keep the information on their networking site private, they should maintain the right to that privacy.
They have actively chosen to only reveal their private information to those whom they deem worthy, and they should be able to maintain that, even from the prying eyes of their school or potential employer.
This is true for the same reason these entities shouldn’t be allowed to search the students’ home if they are suspected of violating a policy.
If, however, they have kept their information public, anything they post is up for grabs.
If the school has policies which extend outside of school, like Brophy has, anything they find that is available to the public should be usable.
This is a ready-made compromise to concerns about privacy.
It is a system that is already in place and designed specifically for this problem.
And perhaps, in a time where people are becoming more comfortable sharing their information, entities which might potentially use this type of information should become more understanding.
This might be useful for all of us, actually.
Many people do many different things in their spare time.
If it is done in a way which truly harms an entity they are associated with, then perhaps action is warranted.
But from what I can tell, what someone does on the weekend is hardly ever used as fuel against their school or employer. If anything, good or bad, it reflects on the person themselves.
If the school or employer thinks that these actions deem the person not viable for employment or admission at their school, that is their choice.
But if the person chooses to keep these actions private, and they do not harm those whom they’re associated with, that choice should be respected and protected.