Social Networks and Online Privacy

Analyze critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Mark Zuckerberg’s statement (YouTube, 2010) about more control with more sharing can correspond to a freer and accessible Web in the vision of  Tim Berners-Lee (Nelson and Burners-Lee, 2002, 229 ). Despite the differences in focus with Zuckerberg being more favorable on data uploading, whereas Berner-Lee’s discussion more concentrated on the accessibility, undoubtedly, both of them as software engineers, have demonstrated their view on having a freer information sharing platforms for the public. Towards a different cognition of online information exposures, the social network of Facebook has accelerated the circulation and exposure of personal information, which may hardly be known before the invention of social network. Clay Shirky, an expert in new media, states in the video below that the online social networking collaborations have profoundly changed the definition of privacy as people published their personal information online(YouTube, 2007,0:57). The private information once exposed in the social network, makes it available for the others to access, which unobtrusively and imperceptibly be treated as public information  that can be spread over the public domain.

When Mark Zuckerberg states that “when people have control of what they share, they are more comfortable to share more”, it displayed a huge ignorance about privacy, as the control of people to share is invalidated after those information are published in the social network, where information are treated as public and be transported into a non-marginal space named public domain. One that everyone can access and potentially ship to commercial oriented websites. As a result, business companies are able to obtain the personal information (for example, email address and hobby ) from their potential customers for free, which may significantly attribute and equip their viral marketing strategies.

Clay Shirky (2007) again argued that the online sharing of the social network has labeled that every piece of information can be accessed from the those particular social network online as  “acceptable” by its owner. As a result, social networks became a platform that collects a tremendous amount of personal information, which enables other Internet users’ accessibility to those confidential information. For example, the clip below is about a stalker who use the name he found on Facebook to start his stalking practice, thus information like home address and phone numbers etc is purposely exploited for strangers to practise their bizarre hobbies.

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, mentioned that the discussions raised on social network have create an “collective identity crisis“. The Social network is eroding the way that identity is used to be constructed; by sharing the confidential moments, personal information is exposed and exploited as an identity construction tool. Since the end of  Renaissance Movement,  individual value is revitalized and used as a tool to identify individual, people are more recognized themselves by what they did or what they want to do (Rosen, 2010, 2). Presently, when entering into the era of Web 2.0 ,  when rumours  and reputation is so easy to construct and destroy, the online sharing activity is beginning to threaten the process of identity constrictions, which can be significantly reflected from the  younger generations, who actively engage with the social networks and try to share everything, even their suicide moments.

Boyd (2008,p18) defines the concept of privacy as information are under control but not actually keeping the information as a secret that tells no one. The statement raised by Mark Zuckerberg needs to be considered with more private information control, as Shirky states that accessibility is not equivalent to acceptability and stricter online regulation needs to be developed to protect personal information from commercial or strange online practice. In addition, youths need to be more encourage to be involved in social activities rather virtual sharing.


Boyd, Danah (2008) ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreak: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence’, Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies 14.4 13-20.

Madkour, R (2008)” Report: Teen commits suicide online” in Associated Press, 2008 accessed in 17th April from<>

Nelson,T. & Burners-Lee, T (2002), ‘Everything is intertwingled’, in Adam Brate (ed.) Technomanifestos: Visions from the information revolutions, New York and London: Texere, pp214-239.

Rosen, J (2010)“The Web Means the End of Forgetting” in The New York Time, accessed in 3rd April, from

Shirky, C (2008) “Facebook Killed the Private Life”in YouTube channel of SwichedShow, accessed in April 17th from<>

YouTube (2010) “INTERNET STALKING IS FUN!” in YouTube Accessed in 17th April, 2011 from<>

YouTube(2010) “Mark Zuckerberg on Making Privacy Controls Simple ” in YouTube accessed in April 3rd , 2011 from

About Blair Gu

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
This entry was posted in Net Communication and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Social Networks and Online Privacy

  1. leongw says:

    Great post, Blair!

    To me it seems rather contradictory – the statement by Mark Zuckerburg. With more privacy controls, the Web becomes a more open platform. With privacy controls you only allow certain people to view your personal information, how might it be “open” for all? Seems almost like a gimmick to get people to share (hence more information for Facebook to use for whatever commercial gains) after all.

    • I’m agree with you, Facebook just want more people to register accounts in their websites so they have more audience to read their ads. I don’t want be judgmental, but Mark Zuckerburg present us in the video as if he is the hero come to save as from be the strict-control of internet sharing.

  2. Nothing so bad, as not to be good for something.

  3. Jasmine says:

    Hello! I really like your blog. I did a subject similar to what you’ve talked about here. It’s really insightful. Hope you can keep this blog running!

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