Saturday, October 02, 2010

CQ Researcher's Recent Article on Social Networking

Are online social networks eroding privacy? This article is available by subscription only at New Trier Library (and other libraries) but is worth sharing because of the soaring membership in sites like Facebook ( over 500 million users) and micro-blogging sites like Twitter (140+ million users).

CQ writer Marcia Clemmitt states:
"For some, the new world of “radical transparency” will increase human understanding and encourage honesty and accountability. But some lawmakers and scholars concerned about losing older notions of privacy warn that more should be done to help individuals control how much of their personal data is publicly accessible."
Do you know that in a 2009 survey, 46 percent of people accepted "friend" requests from strangers? Do you know that 100 percent of survey respondents posted their email addresses? Do you know that 89% of Facebook users in their 20s post their birth dates online?

Clemmitt asks the question: Are online social networks changing social interaction for the worse? Some experts like Justin W. Patchin, Assoc. Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Wisconsin argue that cyberbullying does happen, but it is not the norm among young people.  The recent suicide of Tyler Clementi suggests that cyberbullying cannot be ignored.
Tyler Clementi , a Rutgers University freshman jumped to his death after his roommate secretly filmed him during a "sexual encounter" in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet.
(ABC News)

Clemmitt asks: Are new laws needed to regulate online social media? 
Google CEO Eric Schmidt predicts that eventually everyone may be entitled to one name change in young adulthood to protect themselves from adolescent indiscretions caught in digital photos that may be cached forever somewhere online.  This doesn't even begin to address privacy invasions that were not indiscretions to begin with.

Subscribers to CQ may want to read the PRO/CON arguments of whether Congress should enact legislation to enhance online privacy. The bottom line is that teens need guidance to avoid cyberbullying. We may want to re-think the blocking of sites such as Facebook in order to teach teens ethical behavior on social networks.

If you do not have access to CQ articles, an extensive bibliography is provided. Go to these sources to become more informed:

Ito, Mizuko, et al., Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out, MIT Press, 2010. Based on extensive interviews with young Internet users, scholars from the MacArthur Foundation-funded Digital Youth Project describe how online social media shape the digital generation's approaches to friendship, romance, creativity and family life.

Jenkins, Henry, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York University Press, 2006.
A professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication explores the possibility that a public connected through online social media may eventually exert significant influence over how traditional media are produced and consumed.

Kirkpatrick, David, The Facebook Effect, Simon & Schuster, 2010.
A former senior editor for Internet and technology issues at Fortune chronicles Facebook's founding and history.

Palfrey, John, and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understand the First Generation of Digital Natives, Basic Books, 2008.
The director of Harvard Law School's Berkman Center on Internet and Society (Gasser), and a Harvard professor of law (Palfrey) discuss how extensive use of digital media may change how individuals and, eventually, the law regard privacy and identity.

Shirky, Clay, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Penguin Press, 2008.
A consultant and lecturer on new media argues that online social media can provide endless opportunities for enhanced information sharing, activism and creativity.

Watkins, S. Craig, The Young & the Digital: What the Migration to Social-Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future, Beacon Press, 2009.
Based on extensive interviews and survey data mainly from teen and 20-something Internet users, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Texas, Austin, argues that social network sites, online games and mobile devices mainly serve to help the digital generation keep in touch with their friends.

Angwin, Julia, and Tom McGinty, “Personal Details Exposed Via Biggest U.S. Websites,” The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2010, p. A1. Among the 50 most popular Websites in the United States, only has not installed any software to track visitors after they leave the site. All told, the 50 sites have 3,180 tracking tools, with some sites having up to 100 tracking tools apiece.

Cutler, Kim-Mai, “Why Mark Zuckerberg Needs to Come Clean About His Views on Privacy,” Venturebeat, May 13, 2010,
Even as repeated changes to Facebook policies makes some users fear they've lost control over their personal information, the company's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, hasn't fully articulated what he believes about how such information should be shared.

Hwang, Tim, “Das Zuck-ital: The Economics of Social Networks and the Collapse of Privacy,” Brosephstalin blog, June 4, 2010,
Reaping continued profits from social networking sites likely requires companies to gather very large amounts of personal information about each user.

Rosen, Jeffrey, “The Web Means the End of Forgetting,” The New York Times Magazine, July 19, 2010, p. 30.
A George Washington University professor of law argues that increased sharing of private information via social media requires us to develop new norms for what kinds of behavior we'll hold people accountable for.

Wingfield, Nick, “Microsoft Quashed Effort to Boost Online Privacy,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2, 2010, p. A1.
Microsoft rejected a plan by some of its software developers to make it easy for Internet Explorer users to avoid being tracked by advertisers when they're online.

Reports and Studies
“Millennials Will Make Online Sharing in Networks a Lifelong Habit,” Pew Internet & American Life Project/Elon University Imagining the Internet Center, July 2010, Many Internet analysts say the advantages of personal disclosure will outweigh privacy concerns for people born in the digital age.

“The Future of Social Relations,” Pew Internet & American Life Project/Elon University Imagining the Internet Center, July 2010,
A majority of scholars and technologists surveyed say online social communication will ultimately improve human relations.

Blogs and Organizations Which Track Social Media

All Facebook Blog
Comments on Facebook-related news from social-media analysts and Web developers.

Association of Internet Researchers

910 W. Van Buren St., #142, Chicago, IL 60607

Multidisciplinary association of scholars studying the Internet.
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard Law School, 23 Everett St., 2nd Floor, Cambridge, MA 02138 (617) 495-7547
Research center studying legal and social ramifications of Internet issues.

The Cato Institute

1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington DC 20001-5403 (202) 842-0200
Provides commentary on communications-technology and media issues from a libertarian point of view.
Center for Democracy and Technology
1634 I St., N.W., #1100, Washington, DC 20006 (202) 637-9800
Advocates for protection of Internet users' civil liberties.

The Facebook Blog
Updates about Facebook policies and activities posted by the company.

Imagining the Internet

Elon University School of Communications, Elon, N.C.,
Website of a university-based research center provides analysis and information on how new media will affect the future.


News reports and analysis on social media by technology writers.

Pew Internet & American Life Project

1615 L St., N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036 (202) 419-4500
Foundation-funded research group provides statistics and analysis on Internet use, including social media.

ReadWriteWeb Blog
New Zealand-based technology writer Richard McManus and others analyze trends in online technology.

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