Facebook. Twitter. MySpace. These social networking websites have become ever pervasive in modern life. They allow us to keep up with friends and family, as well as keep tabs onformer classmates and co-workers. They also serve many psychological functions such as providing a sense of being connected to others (however difficult it may be to establish the meaningfulness of these online relationships), a social comparison function, and bolstering one’s sense of identity (in that we can see ourselves through what others post about us or in response to us.)
Despite the positive functions of these sites we may be exposing ourselves to an undesirable loss of privacy and even public scrutiny regarding the content we post online. Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican activist, wrote a private message to a friend that included a racist remark targeted at First Lady Michelle Obama. A local political blogger saw this message and now DePass’s comments are public fodder. While DePass’s case may not be the most sympathetic it does call into question the protections in place for content we would like to keep to ourselves or among close friends. Robin Wauters, a blogger for TechCrunch, recently wrote about FBHive a website which will allow anyone to take advantage of a security loophole to view private profile information. The fun innocuous image of sites like Facebook give users an apparently unwarranted sense of safety regarding the security of their “private” thoughts, feelings, and images.
Internet and Popular Culture
Online Social Networking