So what’s wrong with it?

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So far my blog posts have been about the good things involved in social networking, granted my last was about employment but that focused on lax privacy which is managed by the individual not the website. So now I get to focus on what isn’t so great about social media, I know this doesn’t automatically strike us as a cheery subject but please keep reading if only for the fantastic video at the end by the wonderful Isabel Fay.

My first issue with social networking is privacy, while the major two Facebook and Twitter do have the option to private your account, this is still lacking on Tumblr. In order to privatise your profile you have to make it password protected and your friends need to enter this password to view your posts, not only is this ridiculously inconvenient, but passwords are easily forgotten and there is no way a person could remember the password of every blog they follow on Tumblr. Along with privacy there is blocking users, again facebook has working actions to block and report a user but Twitter still hasn’t worked it out. You can block someone but as I found out this person can still see your tweets and tweet you; the only difference is you don’t receive the tweets in your mentions. So really the only thing that happens is that you don’t see the often-hateful comments about you.

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As in the previous post one of the issues with social networking is down to us, I’m talking about over sharing. Logging into Facebook you see every pregnant person sharing the inside of their uterus or parents documenting every moment of their child’s life, then from other friends, countless drunk photos which are there to embarrass them for years to come. Then there’s twitter, which allows you to share your life in 140 characters or less, as well as allowing you to share exciting things about your life it also gives us the sense that everyone wants to know about our lives. What we had for dinner, what time we got up, what shows we’re watching; they can all easily be found by looking through our profiles and I can find out this information about numerous friends just by scrolling through my feed. As an example a quick scroll shows that friend A is watching David Tennant’s new drama, celebrity B just had a breakfast burrito, while friends C, D and E are working on university work and dissertations. In fact when I tweeted that I couldn’t see what everyone was eating for a change, two friends tweeted me their meals (A healthy chicken salad and a not so healthy but delicious cake!) But that also shows my need to know everything about everyone’s lives because of social networking, so it’s really a vicious circle!

Late last year Facebook and Instagram caused a stir as they announced that if your photos weren’t private they owned the copyright to these images, this led to a lot of users protesting and threats of lawsuits. In response in the terms and conditions renewal of January 2013 the announcement was reworded

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service”

So although Instagram and it’s parent Facebook don’t own your pictures they still hold the license to reuse them, which doesn’t sound that different from the original claim.

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The Internet allows so many people access to a variety of blogs, people, videos, images and articles but you don’t necessarily have to be open about who you are to do this. There are two sides to this coin, the first ultimately more positive. There are many reasons people blog anonymously; to protect themselves from harm, if it’s a particularly risqué subject, or more commonly if they are leaking information. Two of my favourite bloggers of all time Belle De Jour and Fleet Street Fox both remained anonymous for a long time, they are also two of the most well known anonymous bloggers and in gaining fame and notoriety they both revealed their identity before anyone else could. One is a blog by a prostitute, the other a London journalist. Brooke Magnanti (Belle) is now a research scientist and a campaigner for sex worker rights whilst Susie Boniface (Fox) still writes for her blog, has a book deal and gained massive respect during the Leveson enquiry. However neither of these women regrets anonymous blogging, Magnanti even famously told the telegraph “Anonymity can save your life.”

But onto the bad side of anonymity online; trolls. No matter what you do there is always someone out there who disagrees with you, wants to put you down or simply wants to cause trouble. In recent times these people are known as trolls. The sad fact is that there will always be trolls online and they will never grow up. It’s said we shouldn’t fight the trolls but to end here is one of my favourite videos, Thank you Hater by Isabel Fay about Internet trolls (warning some strong language.)

References (2013) Terms of Use • Instagram. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013]. (n.d.) Privacy and Ignoring Users | Tumblr. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013]. (2013) Twitter Help Center | Blocking people on Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Millward, D. (2012) Belle de Jour defends right on anonymous bloggers – Telegraph. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 1 Apr 2013].

Cleverpie. (2012) Thank you Hater. Available at: [Accessed: 31st march 2013].


9 responses

  1. Well one of the issues about the internet is that anything exists once uploaded arguably forever meaning that photos could still be used often without consent or knowledge.

  2. I completely agree with what you’ve said. Although, privacy wise, twitter and facebook are great for people trying to get their name out there! If they used the privacy settings on twitter, noone bar people that follow them can see their tweets (even if they’re directed at someone else!)
    I love the way you’ve spoken about this and your writing skills are easy to read and well written (unlike mine!) x

  3. Interesting! I think Facebook in particular is a great way to share news & photos with people you may not be able to see very often but it’s scary to think about where your pictures could end up without you knowing…

  4. In many of my communications classes at University of Michigan we’ve been talking about this, because people don’t often see the down side of social media. While social media is great for communications majors like me in terms of writing, marketing, etc., there is often a downside and it’s good to see people are finally considering it!
    I seem to go through phases on the internet where I feel really paranoid about how much of my personal information is out there on the intertubes and I go delete crazy, especially on Facebook. Plus, Facebook has so many different apps that it’s hard to remember which ones you give permission to post on your timeline and which ones you don’t want to have anything to do with. Twitter is meant to be more simple and in some ways it is, but you’re right, there’s not very much in the way of privacy on Twitter or on Tumblr. I think that’s why some risk management needs to be done when considering how many social network sites people want to have — consider the downside before signing up for any website that is going to share your personal stuff, even if its just tweets about what you’re having for dinner.

  5. I have often wondered about the photos and how much use I still have of them. I have also found blogs useful to bounce ideas, spread information and sometimes targeted at certain groups misinformation to others.

  6. Great post as always. A friend of mine who’s been on the internet since the early 90s recently told me that a troll used to be a very specific label that meant someone who said the most controversial thing they could think of (eg quoting Bible verses on an atheist forum or asking Christians about their ‘imaginary friend’) despite not actually believing them and then sitting back to watch the drama unfold. Nowadays it generally means a jerk but the Bloggess has a brilliant quiz on how to tell whether someone is a troll or a jerk, which you can find here: Admittedly by troll she means the living under a bridge kind but it’s all to the good.

    Lady Kate xx

  7. They discuss these issues quite regularly on the Social Hour, great podcast about social media if you have not heard of it. Imo the only social networks that have addressed these kind of privacy concerns are Google+ and Path. Google with their circles and Path by restricting posts to your immediate friendship group.

    There is a really interesting TED Talk by Christopher Poole, the founder of 4Chan, that makes a very interesting case for anonymity online and the potential pitfalls that surround it.

  8. Miss, I’ve loved this post! Privacy is getting more and more rare on the internet nowadays, and social networks like facebook offers an easier way of communicatngs while making anonymity almost impossible.
    We’re living in a utterly public and scary world.

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