Youth, Privacy, and Online Media

As you read this article, reflect on how our expectations of privacy have changed over the past few generations. After you read, take some time to think about the activities you engage in that could be subject to data collection. Does this bother you? What do you do to limit the data collected from your online activity? Write an essay of two or three paragraphs summarizing your thoughts.

Online privacy

Online privacy and youth

In the literature on youth, privacy and social media, at least two conflicting perspectives on privacy are frequently presented. On the one hand, those arguing that the age of privacy is over and that youth prioritize convenience over privacy, framed as the 'privacy paradox'. On the other hand those that argue that youth do care, however, they balance opportunities and risks in their use of social media sites, which creates a 'privacy dilemma'. Utz and Kramer confirmed Tufekci's findings that users balance the costs and benefits of disclosure and privacy. In line with Bechmann, they argue for the importance of social norms in users' decision-making processes. For example, if a user's friends are more privacy aware, then that user generally is as well. Moreover, their findings suggest that concern about privacy is directly linked to stricter privacy controls, pointing towards education and awareness raising as crucial elements in shaping privacy behaviors. In the Danish survey "Teens' private and public lives on social media" released in February 2013, seven months prior to the study discussed in this paper, only 16 percent of the teens interviewed did not find it important if what they share on social media was seen beyond the circles of their friends, while 51 percent claimed that it was crucial that they retained control over whom has access to their information. Similarly, the Pew Research Center's survey report "Teens, social media and privacy" from 2013 concluded: "What emerges is a portrait of teens who engage in a range of behaviors to manage the boundaries of their 'social privacy' online. Far from being privacy indifferent, these youth are mindful about what they post". Scholars such as boyd have illustrated the complex nature of privacy as it plays out on social media platforms, arguing that teens' understanding of privacy is related to their ability to control a social situation rather than to particular properties of information. In their empirical studies, boyd and Marvick found that young people develop complex social strategies to maintain privacy on social media platforms.

Thus, if we are to argue that the practices of young people serve as an indicator of what the future might hold, findings such as these may equally serve as tools to help interpreting the right to privacy in an online context. Previous studies as well as the Danish study presented below suggest that privacy is not a decreased social norm with little contemporary significance. On the contrary, these studies of young people's practices on social media platforms illustrate the emergence of a new privacy norm that corresponds to the structural conditions of online social life. Thus, as a priority it does not draw its typology from "private" or "public" space, but leans more towards discourses of personal empowerment and control.