Author, professor speaks about social media and privacy
Lori Andrews, author ofÂ I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy, spoke about social mediaâs effect on privacy and her proposed social media constitution Monday at the Geoffrey Cowan Forum in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Andrews, a professor and associate vice president at the Illinois Institute of Technology and director of the schoolâs Institute for Science, Law and Technology, outlined several ways social media collects information about users through their activities and information posted online.
âItâs hard to tell what happens to you when you join social networks,â Andrews said. âTheyâre constantly redefining the terms of service. We donât really know what were getting into. Thatâs why I think itâs important to define the reach of social networks.â
Information collected by sites such as Facebook, Google and many popular smartphone applications is used for advertising and research, often without the knowledge of the user, Andrews said.
Andrews said employers, school officials, law enforcement and strangers are also increasingly viewing information on social networking profiles, despite any privacy measures a user has taken.
âWeâre not being protected online the same way we are offline,â Andrews said. âSo I decided we need a social network constitution.â
Andrewsâ constitution includes liberties such as the right to connect to any social network without restriction, freedom of association in terms of joining groups or liking pages, freedom not to reveal these associations, freedom of expression and a right to privacy. This hypothetical constitution would also consider protecting current rights that might be infringed upon by social media.
Andrews said the Supreme Court has made rulings to prevent new technology from invading privacy in the past and âwe can gain control if we pay attention.â
The White House has released a plan for an online privacy rights bill, but Andrews said many aspects of the bill would not be sufficient enough to protect citizensâ privacy.
The bill focuses on protecting personal data, such as names and addresses, but Andrews said other digital information, including Google search history, can provide important clues to an internet userâs identity.
April Luo, an undeclared freshman, said social networking poses a serious threat to her privacy rights.
âOur generation is definitely more desensitized to [sharing information online], but I personally donât feel violated,â Luo said. âWhen you think about it, it is kind of creepy, but advertisers donât really do much with your information except send you spam. Plus, you can always control to some extent what you put online.â