Ritika Dubey Testimonial

Ritika-Dubey Tata Institute of Social SciencesName: Ritika Dubey

I have completed Masters in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai with specialization in Community Organization and Development Practices. After my Masters, I was part of a Non-profit Organization which works for women and children welfare. Currently, I am a research scholar with specialization in women’s studies from TISS, Hyderabad. My dissertation focuses on the experiences and disparities faced by underprivileged women of the society. In this article, I would be sharing my understanding on potential treats of Social networking (i.e. Facebook) with suggestions for improvement.

Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter has been growing rapidly in past years with now over 2 billion users. It can be described as web application that allows users to create their semi-public profile, i.e. a profile with mixture of public and private information, communicate with those who are their connections (friends), and build an online community. One of its features is friend finder that allows social network users to search for their acquaintances and then build up their own online community. Therefore, now the individual are not just content consumers instead they are content creator and manager.

According to research study conducted by Columbia University and UC Berkeley on 260 randomly selected Facebook users, almost 95% of the participants have experienced sensitivity towards content posted and 37% has raised general concerns of sharing their content with friends. In lieu of above figures, a workshop was conducted by Centre for Social Research in U.P. college Varanasi, and shared preventive measures from threats like profile hacking and duplicity. The workshop exposed me to the pressing concern on importance of privacy with respect to social networking.

Based on my understanding of the problem described in the workshop, I came up with few suggestions for Facebook organization in order to maintain privacy and protect the users from fraudulent activities: Often we experience the disparity between the desired and actual privacy settings, which makes women vulnerable to deceiving, e.g. many women entrepreneur advertise their products through Facebook has been victim of duping as profile visitor can copy their products/ideas which results in increasing the cases of plagiarism.

Secondly, the default or “recommended” privacy setting for all content is “Everyone”. According to research study by Amazon Mechanical Turk, 36% of content remain shared with the default privacy setting, which is “Everyone”, and so users share their content with all 750 million Facebook users if they decline/forget to modify their privacy settings. Therefore it is necessary to generate awareness among users, and improve privacy concern for profile visibility.

Facebook offers users the option of sharing photos with networks websites, this feature creates potential threats, as general public can access those photos and can exploit the identity of the user. Facebook’s privacy settings are based on photo album rather than individual photo, so each photo should be monitored individually rather than in a group.

Lastly, Facebook should develop a mechanism wherein users can group their friends on the basis of work, family, and friends and apply different privacy setting to each group. This will make the communication easier within a group avoiding unnecessary/irrelevant access.

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