Digital Media Privacy Essay (Critical Writing)

Analysis of the Readings

The readings focus on digital media and its impact on the issue of privacy. The article by Mills (2015) focuses on the old conflicts that are witnessed in the new media. Just like in the past, the top celebrities and politicians try to hide their personal lives from the public. However, media is keen to expose them due to public interest.

In their quest to expose these celebrities, this author argues that sometimes journalists end up giving unverified information just to be relevant. This may be harmful. The article written by Beate and Dorota (2015) talks about the necessary balance that should exist between privacy and publicity.

Issues relevant to the public should be publicized, and those that involve privacy of an individual should remain private. The third article by Margulis (2011) focuses on three theories of privacy. The theories include Westin’s Theory, Altman’s Theory, and Petrino’s Communication Privacy Management (CPM) Theory.

Westin’s Theory

This theory holds that people always make deliberate attempts to limit their accessibility to others as a way of protecting their privacy. When they know that a piece of information about them may be harmful, then they make an effort to ensure that it remains hidden from others. He also argued that privacy involves a voluntary withdrawal of an individual from the public.

Altman’s Theory

According to this theory, people always regulate how open or closed they are to different people under different external environmental conditions. For instance, if people achieve the success adored by the society, they embrace publicity. On the other hand, the same people would prefer scandalous information to be private. People exhibit different behavioral mechanisms to regulate privacy based on the expected outcome.

Petrino’s Theory

This theory defines privacy boundaries which range from complete or total openness to complete secrecy. Privacy has rules that should be observed, especially by the modern digital media. Before making a piece of information public, one must ensure that it is truthful and relevant to the public. The publicity must be made without any intent to harm an individual or group.

Comparison of the Theories

From the analysis of the three theories, it is clear that they both share the principle that privacy is an ingredient in communication that should be respected. They all agree that some pieces of information are better kept as secretes because of the consequences they may have on an individual, a group of people, or the public in case they are publicized.

How the Theories Differ

Westin’s Theory differs from the last two theories in terms of the custodian of information. It argues that by staying away from the public, one is able to protect certain information from reaching the public. The other two theories do not agree with this argument. Patrino’s CPM Theory is very comprehensive on the relationship of social media and privacy while the other two theories do not give such detailed explanations of the relationship between the two.

Application of the Theories to Digital Media

It may not be easy to apply these theories in the unregulated social media where individuals may fail to follow the law when publishing pieces of information. For example, an individual may publish wrong information about a person or group with the intent to cause harm.

On the other hand, a government may prohibit media from publishing true information that may be of harm to the political leaders. This is very common in the Middle East where media freedom is infringed upon by state organs. As Mills (2015) says, these theories are very relevant when they relate to mass media that is regulated in a democratic environment.

Interesting Items in the Readings

These theories give a wide focus on the issue of privacy and how it can be upheld in a society that thrives in social media. For instance, it is interesting how Patrino’s CPM Theory defines how one can promote privacy in social media. Sometimes people lie to shift public’s attention from the truth that may be more harmful.

Comparing and Contrasting Major Themes

The three readings are in agreement that some pieces of information are best kept as secrete as a way of protecting individuals, groups, or states. They agree that the freedom brought about by the social media should not be abused by infringing into the rights of others with malicious intentions. However, these readings differ when it comes to how privacy should be promoted in the digital media.

Perception towards Digital Media Privacy

I believe that the privacy of individuals or groups should be respected as long as it is not affecting the public and that it operates within the law. Social media has promoted invasion of privacy because of the ease with which information can be published by individuals. This may be dangerous in this digital world. For instance, when a person publishes a classified government data relating to security, it may jeopardize the functionality of security organs within the country.

References

Beate, S., & Dorota, M. (2015). Social Dimensions of Privacy: Interdisciplinary Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Margulis, S. (2011). Three Theories of Privacy: An Overview. Berlin: Springer.

Mills, J. (2015). Privacy in the New Media Age. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

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