Social Media Privacy and the Law

By on June 4, 2019

 Image source: Pixabay

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Employers, friends, and potential love interests all rely on social media in order to get an idea of who you present yourself to be. However, the information that you put onto social media isn’t restricted to your social life, and your data is essentially part of the public domain once you put it on the internet. You should be aware of all of the implications involved in spreading your personal information on the internet, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

Posts Used as Evidence

It might seem like a no-brainer, but social media posts are often used as evidence in criminal trials. Prosecutors regularly use electronic communications and information from social media profiles as evidence in criminal cases, while defense attorneys can use the same type of evidence in the defendant’s favor to challenge allegations. However, just because something was posted to social media does not mean that it is a reliable source — it must pertain to the case, and the evidence can’t be unfairly prejudicial.

You should always be careful about what you say online, as you never really know who is keeping track. Every word that you type on social media is meticulously indexed and stored under your name. Even comments made in private groups can be made public eventually, especially if the content within is particularly inflammatory or you work for a high-profile company.

While it is obviously difficult to completely cut social media out of your life, there are ways to prevent social media posts from being used against you in court. Minding what you are sharing in the first place, using a VPN to protect your privacy, and making sure that your conduct online doesn’t violate any laws or rules on the platform are great ways to ensure that your social media presence isn’t used against you.

All of Your Data Is Fair Game

Whether you like it or not, social media platforms are constantly collecting quantifiable data on not only your shopping preferences but who you are as a person. Businesses bank on analyzing social media data to lead to new ways to find purchase signals and gauge customer sentiment, but your data goes far beyond your advertising profile. Your social media presence can give a relatively accurate account of your beliefs, politics, and personal opinions on any number of subjects.

Your online data is used without any regard to how you would prefer it be used. Marketers use the data that you generate on any social media platform to make targeted advertisements, websites use it to conduct research, and thieves use it to steal your identity. Your data means nothing in the corporate world, and it is treated as a commodity. Companies sell your data, advertisers use it to create consumer categories, and your posts can even be used to deduce your whereabouts.

Social media marketing is a huge part of how business is conducted these days, and you should be aware of just how your data is being used. Tapping into social media can help companies to glean improved customer insights and develop better customer service. Businesses thrive off of your information, and while you can’t stop them from collecting your data, you can have a say in what information you put out into the world.

Your Most Private Moments

Social media posts can result in an ethical conundrum for healthcare professionals. While healthcare professionals want to respect your privacy, there are certain instances where what you post on social media requires action from them. For instance, if you post about suicidal thoughts and feelings, healthcare professionals may take charge of the situation and try to give you help, whether you want it or not.

Social media companies also have a rough time dealing with posts regarding suicidal thoughts. Though they want to respect your privacy, some social media companies have implemented strategies to try and help with suicide prevention. Facebook currently uses AI with the sole purpose of identifying posts that might signal that a user is feeling suicidal before it is even reported, which allows Facebook to reach out to that individual to try and offer some help.

Their intention isn’t to infringe on your privacy; it’s to help you in your time of need.

However, Facebook’s AI doesn’t take your privacy into account when it is scanning for posts that might indicate suicidal thoughts. While you can change who can and can’t view your posts by managing your privacy settings, Facebook itself can still see everything that you post. Though these measures are taken with good intentions, it is still a breach of your privacy online.

In this modern and hyper-connected era, it can be tricky to understand how your social media privacy is affected by laws. Posts on social media can be used in criminal trials, your advertising data is up for sale to the highest bidder, and even what you thought were your most private posts are still visible to those running the platform you use. At the end of the day, in order to maintain your privacy online, the best course of action is to simply watch what you say and do on social media.

About Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about marketing, tech, and how the two merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.
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