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Social networks are currently among the major types of technology with significant impact on information privacy. Among the social networks, Facebook is most active and commonly used by people all over the world. Despite its popularity, there is limited knowledge and understanding on how youths and adults use the social network.
When Facebook first went online, it opened a new avenue of communication for millions of people around the world. The major attraction was the ability to help young people share their personal information with their friends.
Although Facebook has played a significant role in telecommunication, it has presented a problem in privacy protection among high school students, thus doing more harm than good (Christofides, 2010).
The known fact about students is that they disclose a large amount of their personal information online. Recent studies about the information disclosure on Facebook show that the majority of high school students reveal personal information such as, relationship status, email address, the list of their friends’ birthdays, as well as other networked connections through the sites.
They also provide their real names, complete birthdays and real clear photo images of themselves in their profile.
Students also utilize the Facebook platform to share notes and status updates such as the activities they are carrying out. They also share their personal thoughts and feelings. In Facebook platforms, people can post videos and photos of themselves or friends to their friends or any other Facebook user (Jones, 2005). Young people are eager to meet more people on the network, and thus put more personal information and interests online.
On the Internet, people can follow their whims to add friends. Sometimes, there may be a mutual friend or friends, sometimes-just alumni, sometimes people they simply do not know. It is really hard to ensure that their words will not hurt any one in their friends list.
According to Debatin et al. (2009), there is a false sense of privacy for the student using Facebook accounts. Students have the feeling of anonymity and lack of social responsibility developed by using text-centered telecommunication. These students post embarrassing, denigrating, humiliating and hurtful information through text, videos, and photos. They forget that nothing is private online, particularly on their social network. Consequently, students have been expelled from schools and colleges for online misconduct.
They have been denied acceptance to internship programs as well as jobs. Students as well as their parents have been sued for defamation of character. Suing arises because of the information they post on their Facebook accounts thinking that their accounts are private. They forget the moment they post content they lose control and ownership of that content. It was further found that Facebook usage among high school students negatively affects their academic grade. Additionally, it reduces the time dedicated to part time jobs.
Studies show that there are psychological risks among youth that are associated with information disclosure. Many of them develop regretful and uncomfortable feelings on realizing that their information is in the wrong hands. In addition, disclosure of information on Facebook results in social risks between parents and youths. Media reports reveal that organizations have been using Facebook to assess candidates and judge them on what they post on their Facebook profiles.
Online disclosures on Facebook have negative effects on romantic relationships. Investigative state agencies are also utilizing Facebook information to access personal information thus damaging youths’ privacy. Now, adolescents already have a certain understanding of Facebook, then why do they still continue to put their private information on the Internet? How can they properly use Facebook and protect their privacy at the same time? Today, research, maybe, can give an answer to the public.
The first sub-question focuses on the characteristics of Facebook. This is the independent variable. As there are two different characteristics of Facebook with regard to privacy. One characteristic is positive affect. Students published their hobbies, marital status, or likes and dislikes on Facebook. These kinds of information can help people makes a lot of new friends on the Internet. But this needs a prerequisite, Facebook is a public information platform and it allows users to publish their information voluntarily.
Well, on the other hand, another characteristic is negative. Facebook as an active party recommends other users’ information to other people. Or unfriendly people publish information about a person who they do not like, and let other people see his private information. So, sometimes there will be people getting each other’s information easily, although, they did not deliberately query each other’s information.
The second sub-question focuses on the dependent variable: the situations of students’ privacy before Facebook was used popularly. What is Facebook’s effect on the situation of students’ privacy? Facebook actively publishes too much students’ information on the Internet, causing troubles in the students’ life, and perhaps even puts the students in a very dangerous situation. Compared with earlier times, before Facebook appeared, each country’s network technology was not very well developed.
Facebook was the most basic design in the emergence of the campus site. But at that time, friends on the university campus were using a mobile phone, text message, or letters to exchange personal information. So, personal information, at that time, is relatively safe. People respect each other’s information and do not communicate it through the network. And the students on their own initiative publish all of the information, the situation at that time had one weakness, the circulation of the information was not big.
So students did not have to worry that their private information would be open for strangers to see. When there was no network platform such as Facebook there was no way for others to mess with someone’s personal information. At that time there was not much network violence.
The third sub-question addresses the college students with a comprehensive understanding of Facebook, including both good and bad effects. Therefore, it focuses on the effect of the independent variable on the dependent variable of the target group. Facebook now is very popular on college campuses in the United States, and people already know that personal information posted on Facebook may be stolen.
Under such circumstances, how can students control the independent variable? The dependent variable is a result. If people do not put any private information online, then others have no way of misappropriation of information. There is no way to create the conditions for network violence.
We believe that in the information age, people are in pursuit of quick research online to find answers. But we also need to protect our personal information on the Internet. Do not become the goal being searched. We are not saying to stop or reduce the student use of Facebook. But students and Facebook Company can try to improve the security of the network.
First one, Facebook should not involuntary recommend users’ information. Strangers cannot see each other’s information. Facebook can improve their network system, so students do not have to worry about their private information being found by strangers. After people understand the characteristics of Facebook, both users, and developers with some responsibility for the product, get better and more practical. Try to remove the bad effects, and make Facebook become more and more popular.
Before Facebook became so popular, people’s private information did not received a lot of distribution. Information was distributed by people face-to-face, or by means of phone correspondence. So, people had to use those old channels of communication, which are not very advanced. In fact, to make friends or to share their living conditions, the best way is face-to-face communication between people. There are a lot of people that in real life, have no friends. Their friends exist only in the network.
Some have a lack of communication with people in daily life, so they gradually become autistic, although they are good in using network language, they have no idea how to make an oral exchange. If people do not rely on Facebook, and often have other ways to communicate, like letters, oral communication, it perhaps makes for more protection of privacy. After all, a person as an active party, can choose what they want to say or what personal information they want publish.
At present, people know that Facebook has brought convenience to people, but also brought some adverse effects. And college students and educated people should know more about what kind of information can be published on the Internet and what information is not suitable to be published on the Internet. Perhaps, colleges can have a lecture on network security, to remind students how to protect themselves in the online world.
With the development of the network, people can find more and more violence and fraud on the Internet. Some people steal network information to deceive network friends. Some people use the threat of revealing user information. Such situations are becoming increasingly serious. Researchers have found, a lot of people become victims of cyber- bullying leading to weariness, truancy, psychological disorders, and even suicide (N. 2014). Now the situation is more serious, in contrast to other older students, university students have more free time; they are also more aware of the importance of friends. Relative to high school students, they have a more stable source of income and more social activities.
Therefore, they can expose more of their personal information online. A British report claimed, “Facebook is the worst social network for bullying with 19-year-old BOYS the most common victims” (Gayle 2013). In the university, older teenagers, as a result of self-esteem and privacy issues, do not want to encounter the terrible consequences in case teachers and their parents see their posts. If they cannot protect their privacy that will caused a lot of unpredictable consequences.
First-hand data will be generated from a survey of approximately 30 college students (aged 18-23) from Fairleigh Dickinson University, NJ. All of them will be asked the same set of questions about how their private information is being utilized from Facebook. First, we cannot be sure all of these 30 students have a Facebook account. International students, may in order to integrate into the campus environment, may be willing to publish their information on Facebook to find more friends.
Two-thirds of people are willing to put their daily information on the Internet, sometimes like writing a diary, or to share their current state with others. When they share their information, they acknowledge their privacy may be infringed on Facebook, but they feel that the information, which they published, will not hurt them. A small portion of people think they just want to chat with their friends in real life. There is one person who has no Facebook account because she thinks that oral communication is the best way to communicate. They do not want others to pay attention to their privacy so they only occasionally use Facebook.
Now, as a verbal survey, we divided the students into two groups. One is very dependent for Facebook, they forced themselves to publish all of their information on the Internet. People in another group think there are many other ways to get people to understand them. Some people say a lot of time, they receive Facebook ads or Trojanmail, and it always bores them. Sometime, they press the wrong button and they might be charged. But as a consumer it is hard for us to improve on the network program.
Many people say that they often get by strange people asking to be friends and they did not know how others got their information. This is quite normal; the network will often recommend someone you might people that can find your personal information. There are a lot of students who see their photos reproduced and are very happy, because they get more people’s attention. But they are just thinking in a positive way. There are lots of people that are truly concerned about you, care about you, but there may be more people that look at your published information for entertainment. During that time, a student may inadvertently be hurt.
All the students say, before Facebook appeared; they had used a variety of chat tools. Personal information at that time seemed to be protected better. And at that time, there were more opportunities to communicate with people face to face. People could find more personal time. But in recent years, the popularity of Facebook might be the main cause that their personal information is no longer restricted.
At present, people spend more and more time on the Internet. They are able to meet friends face to face, less and less. Many American students have heard that in China, Facebook is disabled, and they simply do not understand. They have what they think is a very effective dating tool. As university students, when they want to find a new job, they should know the employer could check their Facebook account, so they should take care of what they post.
The most terrible thing in the world is that there is a pit in the middle of the road, but people still want to jump into it. University students know that Facebook has hazards regarding personal information, so why not begin to change their own life and to the information they put online. Do not let others have a chance to hurt you.
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