Ethics of Internet Privacy
The topic, ethics of Internet privacy, is almost as convoluted and hard to understand as Facebook’s privacy settings. Whether we like it or not, the right to privacy on the World Wide Web isn’t all ones and zeroes. Internet participation is a choice and not a right or a requirement, which means, theoretically, that if we don’t like the privacy settings of a certain website then we don’t have to continue to use that website. Problem solved. Or is it?
The issue, ethics of Internet privacy, gets even more complicated when users sign up for a website with the understanding that their privacy will be protected only to find that website constantly changing its privacy settings. The ethicality of these constant changes is questionable, because the incremental changes that are constantly being made by websites like Facebook are subtle encroachments on user privacy. Of course, it could be argued that it is the user’s responsibility to quit the site if he or she feels violated. However, many of these encroachments on the ethics of internet privacy might not be felt or noticed by users until it’s too late. Consider this analogy: If a frog is placed in a pot on the stove and the flame is turned up slowly, the frog won’t even notice the water starting to boil.
But not all of us are frogs. Some Internet users, for example, have developed web games that illustrate the growing backlash against Facebook’s “boiling frog” practices when it comes to Internet privacy. Others continue to use the same social media websites while participating in online activism to make sure that users like themselves understand who is seeing their personal information and how it is being used. Knowledge and awareness are the best defenses against privacy invasions.
Are the Internet privacy practices of certain social media websites like Facebook unethical? Perhaps, but in the end the user still does have the option to refuse to use websites that compromise his or her privacy.
At MySMN, we want you to remember to stay vigilant and be aware of the amount of personal information that you are sharing online. For better or worse, nothing is personal or private once it enters cyberspace with the ethics of internet privacy.