01 Introduction

How do we manage our privacy online?

As part of an online community or social networking site, people share information that has caused some observers to claim that people no longer value their privacy.  The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (in Johnson, B 2010) has recently said that privacy was no longer a social norm:

"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people, that social norm is just something that has evolved over time."


Much of the discourse around privacy online struggles to resolve that people share information while still wanting control over who can access or use it.  As those who use the Internet for social interaction see the value of this, they tend to see privacy as a balance; withholding participation is not an option.  A definition from Onn et al (2005) states:

"The right to privacy is our right to keep a domain around us, which includes all those things that are part of us, such as our body, home, thoughts, feelings, secrets and identity. The right to privacy gives us the ability to choose which parts in this domain can be accessed by others, and to control the extent, manner and timing of the use of those parts we choose to disclose"

I will be looking at privacy online and exploring how people balance the desire for communication and disclosure with concepts of privacy.  I will also be looking at warnings about how technology is changing the way we communicate and why we need to be cautious about the power afforded to those controlling the sites we use.  I will also be discussing the responsibilities of social media creators and members of online communities in ensuring privacy is upheld, including the potential role of governments in protecting both our information and our freedom online.