Social norms affect people’s behavior online. Although communications on the Internet, whether via email or social networking services, are clearly different from offline communications, some mechanisms are similar. People are parts of particular communities online (“friends,” subscribers, followers, interest groups, etc.) and build their personae, which is the way they want to be perceived. An Internet user can see many different posts from other people, which shapes the ideas of the normal behavior in this person. Being exposed to particular behaviors contributes to the concept of the norm, determines what people think they are expected to do, and can ultimately alter the behavior (Thaler and Sunstein 54). This is the idea of doing what others do.
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Since people try to follow social norms online, they similarly try to avoid being exposed online in a way that conflicts with their idea of the norm. However, it is hard to do in the modern world because the amount of content online constantly grows, depriving people of their privacy. An example from the Legal Dictionary is about a woman named Amber whose ex-husband Mark takes pictures of her in the street, tapes her phone conversations, and posts all this on social networking services. Since Amber does not provide her consent for making her personal information public, this case, according to the law, is an invasion of privacy. If she begins legal action against Mark, he will most likely be prosecuted for stalking and criminal trespassing.
Although the concept of privacy is being redefined in the modern world of information technology, there is still the fundamental principle: people should have a right to share only what they want. In case a picture of them is posted online without their permission, and against their will, they may demand it to be deleted from public access. This right is recognized by the law.
Thaler, Richard H., and Cass R. Sunstein. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. London: Penguin Books, 2009. Print.