Social networking and information policy – Privacy

Social media participation in our society has resulted in a positive integration of technology with education curriculum and pedagogy, however there are also further challenges that must be addressed in relation to equity and privacy (Cheston, Flickinger and Chisolm, 2013). Madden et. al. (2013) suggest that despite filtering some personal information, teenagers lack concern about their online privacy when participating in social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr (See figure 1). Privacy concerns related to the growth in personal information that is shared online is often self- regulated by young people as they co- create identities and utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 as policy makers struggle to keep up with the ubiquitous nature of new technologies (Mallan and Giardina, 2009).
Despite the affordances of Web 2.0 technologies allowing for the filtering of personal information and even anonymity, only 40% of 2007 OCLC survey respondents reviewed website privacy policies before supplying personal information (De Rosa et. al., 2007). While change is occurring, it may not be because of policy direction or regulations and Raynes-Goldie (2010) argues that Facebook users have in fact demonstrated a shift toward ‘privacy pragmatism’ where the benefits of online identities often outweigh the privacy costs. Pearson (2009) further argues that anonymity is ultimately counterproductive to users ability to build an online reputation (and even our next soon to be Prime Minister pragmatically releases personal information) that is socially beneficial.
Organisations that are seeking to develop relationships with their digital communities need to develop and maintain policies that help to navigate through the challenging issues of privacy and trust. When addressing the online identities of both staff and patrons policies need to provide guidance and boundaries that can be enforced if there are violations. While restrictive policies are often needed, it may be more beneficial for organisations to develop more open minded and constructive policy wording to develop more equitable and ethical approaches to what information about identities are shared online and how these directions are enforced.



Cheston, C. C., Flickinger, T. E., and Chisolm, M. S. (2013). Social media use in medical education: a systematic review. Academic Medicine, 88(6), 893-901. Retrieved from:

De Rosa, C., Cantrell, J., Havens, A., Hawk, J. and Jenkins, L. (2007). Section 3: Privacy, Security and Trust. In Sharing privacy and trust in our networked world: A report to the OCLC membership. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC. [ebook] Retrieved from:

Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Cortesi, S., Gasser, U., Duggan, M., Smith, A., and Beaton, M. (2013). Teens, social media, and privacy. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from:

Mallan, K. and Giardina, N. (2009). Wikidentities: Young people collaborating on virtual identities in social network sites, First Monday, 14(6), 1 June. Retrieved from:

Pearson, J. (2009). Life as a dog: Personal identity and the internet. Meanjin, 68(2), 67-77.

Raynes-Goldie, K. (2010). Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook, First Monday, 15(1), 4 January. Retrieved from:

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