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Privacy and Security in Social Media Report


Over the past century, the invention of the computer and the subsequent creation of the internet have been among the major accomplishments in terms of communication advancements. These two entities have been used extensively to revolutionize the world in regard to information processing and communication strategies.

One of the areas that have recorded significant growth as a result of computing and internet advancements is social media. Social networking has attracted millions of users globally and the numbers continue to grow as more people gain access to computers, mobile phones and the internet (Frau-Meigs, 2011). Social networking sites have created avenues through which people can communicate with friends, colleagues and family around the world (Flynn, 2012).

Despite these benefits, social media poses serious security and privacy concerns to users. This paper shall set out to explore the privacy and security risks that users are exposed to. To achieve this aim, social media shall be defined and examples of social media provided.

This shall then be followed by a problem section, which shall focus on the privacy and security issues such as identity theft, spying, and fraud among other cyber crimes that are inherent to social media. The pros and cons of social media shall be discussed and solutions to curb the security and privacy issues proposed.

An overview of social media

Social media refers to online and mobile communication technologies that are used by people to engage in interactive dialogue (Bradshaw & Keefer, 2007). Some of the web-based technologies include social networks (Facebook and Myspace), blogging sites (wordpress and typepad), wikis (Wikipedia, Wikia etc.) and business/technical networks (Linkedln among others).

Despite the fact that social media has helped people stay in touch regardless of various constraints such as distance, time and financial aspects, there are privacy and security issues that threaten the effectiveness of social media channels. Privacy in this regard refers to personal information that is sensitive, important and inaccessible by other members of the public (Timm & Duven, 2008, p.90)

Social media can therefore be viewed as an effective tool for enhancing and promoting globalization (Bradshaw & Keefer, 2007). This is attributed to the fact that social media technologies facilitate communication and interactions on a global scale, thereby promoting international relations.

Privacy and Security Issues in Social Media

According to Cha (2011), security and privacy problems emanating from social media are classified into behavioral and technical issues. One of the problems associated with social media is the invasion of privacy. This has been attributed to technological advancements that have made invasion of privacy not only feasible, but also achievable.

For example, social networking sites such as Facebook and twitter among others have created an avenue through which personal information can easily be accessed by other people, thereby making invasion of privacy easy (Miller & Wells, 2007). To expound on this, Castro (2010, p.2) states that there have been cases whereby internet companies collect personal information data from these sites and use it in ways that clearly violates the privacy of users.

The author reveals that personal information is at times taken and redistributed to third parties without the consent of knowledge of the user (Castro, 2010, p.2). Distribution of personal information under such circumstances constitutes to a breach of one’s right to privacy.

Similarly, there is no way of guaranteeing anonymity while using social media. In the past, people were encouraged to use pseudonyms in social networking sites in order to protect their real identities (Chen et al, 2008). However, most sites today adopt an arm-twisting approach that forces people to use their real identity and information as they register into these sites (Chen et al, 2008).

Cha (2011) asserts that through technical specifications and registration requirements, people are encouraged to reveal their true identity and personal information before they become members of the online community. In addition, social networking Sites such as Facebook share the IP address of users without their consent every time a person uses its services (Cha, 2011).

One of the main advantages of social media is that they create a platform through which people can share ideas, information and opinions freely (Hong et al, 2005). This posses a serious security and privacy threat on both a national and personal level. This is attributed to the fact that most of information is placed in public domains where it can be viewed by many people. As such, people may react negatively to such information, thereby causing mass panic.

For example, there are comments and messages that promote radicalism. Terrorism acts may emanate from such information in cases where people are mislead into believing that there are injustices going on and they need to act. In addition, photos and comment made on social media sites may be a source of embarrassment in the future and may threaten the careers of many people if used inappropriately (Spon, 2010; Albrechtslund, 2008).

Due to advances in technology, spying has been made easier through social media. People create profiles by giving details about their lives and preferences. As such, stalkers can gather such information and use it in ways that invade the privacy of other people (Albrechtslund, 2008). As such, social media promotes social vices such as spying and stalking. This has been made even worse by the revelation that these sites make the world a more dangerous place for children.

Social media channels have created more risks to children who may be preyed upon by criminals in online environments. According to Barnes (2006), chat rooms and mobile phones have been used to lure young children into meeting strangers who later subject them to various forms of abuse. The author reveals that a significant number of children reported that they were molested by people they met via social media outlets. This shows the security risk children and adults are exposed to through social media.

Albrechtslund (2008) asserts that various governments have expressed their interest in social media since they help governments to profile potential criminals. Through these channels, governments can collect various information on a person such as location of residency, work place, religious and political affiliation and friendship circles. Such data enables different government faculties to closely monitor people and improve their surveillance abilities.

However, this posses a serious security and privacy threat to citizens if such information falls into the hands of oppressive regimes. People may suffer as government agencies monitors and intervenes in all aspects of their lives by tapping into their emails, phone calls and browsing histories (Bennett, 2011).


Social media provides an avenue through which people can communicate and interact with relative ease. However, there are privacy risks that users are exposed to as a result of using various social media such as social networking sites (Goettke & Christiana, 2007). Throughout this report, it has been revealed that most users are unaware of the privacy and security risks they come across in the online environment.

However, the fact still remains that information posted on social media is at risk of being viewed by intended and unintended audiences across the world. As such, Flint (2009) argues that information posted on such media cannot be considered as private since the main intention is to share that information. This is made worse by the fact that people often post persona information without being forced to do so. As such, users of social media are indeed the architects of their own exposure.

To address the privacy and security of personal information posted in social media, developers of applications such as facebook have implemented policies that clearly stipulate how personal information posted on their website is used (Facebook, 2012). This policy also reveals other parties that may have access to personal information and the measures adopted to ensure that this information is protected and individuals’ right to privacy is upheld (Wallbridge, 2009).

In addition, there are data protection legislations, which seek to protect the privacy of online users against malicious business entities and criminals. Most of these laws stipulate that there must be an acceptable purpose before a third party processes the personal information of an individual (Brogan, 2010). However, for such laws and policies to be effective, users have to read and familiarize themselves with them in order to take the appropriate actions.

According to Fischer-Hubner (2008), the rapid rate at which social media are gaining prominence, makes it safe to assume that they will be the main form of communication in the future. This is mainly due to the fact that they are cheap, time-saving and convenient. With this in mind, it would be prudent to implement stricter laws and policies, which safeguard the privacy of users.


This paper set out to explore the privacy and security issues that affect social media. The discussions presented herein reveal that users of social media willingly post personal information, which can be used by malicious criminals and businesses to compromise the privacy and security of individuals in the real world. It has also been observed that people post personal information because they have a false sense of security while using social media.

Such information may be used by governments, criminals and even employers to blackmail, profile and spy on individuals. Despite the fact that there are laws and policies that seek to protect users’ information from such vices, individuals should exercise caution and filter information that they publish on social media, because it becomes public as soon as it is posted. In so doing, users are better placed to avoid the negative implications that result from uploading personal information in social media.


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"Privacy and Security in Social Media." IvyPanda, 25 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-security-in-social-media-report/.

1. IvyPanda. "Privacy and Security in Social Media." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-security-in-social-media-report/.


IvyPanda. "Privacy and Security in Social Media." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-security-in-social-media-report/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Privacy and Security in Social Media." May 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/privacy-and-security-in-social-media-report/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Privacy and Security in Social Media'. 25 May.

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