Social Media is an umbrella term for the websites and applications that enable users to create and share content, or to participate in social networking. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, TikTok and SnapChat – while non-existent twenty years ago – are powerful social media platforms that have global influence, and reach billions of active users. Because of their meteoric growth in a short space of time, serious concerns exist around the impact of these platforms on users’ personal privacy.
Social media companies rely on paid advertising as one of their main sources of revenue. Over time, dubious and manipulative practices like data mining, data harvesting, and algorithmic processing have developed to glean information from voluminous sensitive and personal data shared by social media users. Data about their activities, likes, interests, political views and purchasing history can be used to better help advertisers micro-target ads. Often this information is updated contemporaneously as users engage with the sites allowing comprehensive studies of individual users’ behaviour and preferences to be built. This is arguably a form of serious commercial exploitation that most social media users are not aware of, will not have knowingly consented to, and it is deeply offensive to individual privacy rights.
Corporate privacy policies will exist and be available on social media websites, and users will often have agreed to their terms in order to access the services. However, the terms of such policies are often vague, difficult to enforce, and wholly inadequate to protect users’ privacy. Sensitive and personal data shared on social media sites is also at constant risk of exposure to other third parties (apart from advertisers) whether individual hackers, or the wider public through data breaches, malware or viruses.
Users must take their individual right to privacy into account in the way they engage with social media. Save deleting all profiles and closing down all accounts, proceeding with greater caution and risk awareness is the only option available.
Actions to consider include:
Whether personal, professional or business, reputation is a key asset, and a good one can be highly valuable. Damage to reputation can be devastating. Since the advent of social media over the past ten to twenty years, the importance of our reputations in the online space has become a key consideration, and can offer both immense risk and reward depending on the approach taken.
Personally and professionally harnessing the power of social media is both a skill and an art. It requires savvy, discernment and creativity. Sharing opinions publicly may be a boost to your career/employer/business but, if mis-aligned, may lead to awkward conversations, and even job loss.
Follow these steps to safeguard your reputation on social media:
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.