Facebook’s Information Ethics and Privacy Issues

Introduction

The Internet has brought so many benefits with it, including the ability to communicate instantly with the rest of the world at the click of a button. Many people have been able to trace their long lost friends through the social networking sites such as Facebook.

This site has become so famous because you can hardly go for long without hearing people talking about it. Facebook is also addictive and in fact even those who are not computer literate are eager to be so, because their main aim is to be able to express themselves through this site and the others of the same nature.

However, Facebook has been criticized in relation to privacy of information – dating back in 2009. This was particularly in the case of Canada where Stoddard, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, argued that the site was little concerned with the privacy of its users. Privacy issues outlined by Stoddard included the storage and unauthorized distribution of users’ information, even in the event that users decided to deactivate their accounts.

Since then, the developers of Facebook have made numerous changes to the sites operations and privacy policies to address the Privacy Commissioner’s concerns. This paper will seek to address the information ethics and privacy issues affecting Facebook and the stand of Canadians Privacy Commissioner with regards to safe usage of information

Freedom of employees

Nationale Suisse was not justified when they monitored the activities of their employee in the internet. When they fired the employee they created an impression that bed rests should only be allowed to people who are in critical conditions and that one should not interact with friends because they are unwell.

In fact, when one is sick friends are very important because they provide moral support which enhances the healing process, and since nowadays one does not need to travel to meet friends and relatives. Why not use the most convenient mode of communication?

The organization should understand that it is more traumatizing to remain behind closed doors hence the employee did nothing wrong by being online. The organization displayed its primitiveness by arguing that the employee was faking illness because she would not be able to chat with friends on Facebook if she were sick.

This is because nowadays people can surf the Internet by using mobile phones. Maybe when the employee was spotted on the site she was just relaxing on the bed and perhaps her phone has such facilities so the organization should have taken time to analyze her phone to establish whether it has such features but then that iss against the rights of an individual.

Organizations should not judge their employees by what they do and say in social networking sites. No one should be victimized for expressing themselves through such sites. Monitoring employees means that there is no trust between the employer and the employee.

Hence, organizations should set their employees free and should communicate with the employees in order to understand their frustrations and needs. When they do not give an ear to their needs they will be tempted to spill the beans in such sites because they assume that other users can help them in solving their problems.

On the other hand employees should be careful when they are making comments on Facebook because any negative remarks can taint the name of their organization and when an employer comes across such statements they do not have an alternative but to sack such a person. If employees are experiencing any problems, they should discuss it with their employer instead of seeking for sympathy from Facebook users.

Obligation of Facebook in Safeguarding Private Information

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada was right when she requested Facebook to protect personal details of its users. This is because when such details are made available to other people without the authority of the user, it is unethical.

There are so many business people who would be glad to have such details because they can use them to market their products and services online, but then people feel uncomfortable when contacted by someone whom they do not know. In fact, someone assumes that it is a spam mail because they do not know how the person got their contact details which make someone feel like he/she is being monitored.

Moreover, in this day and age where people have mastered the tricks of hacking people’s information, people could loose money and other important things if their important details such as their national social security number were in the hands of a hacker. This is because there are people who are good in hacking and manipulating data to obtain money fraudulently.

To deal with this problem Facebook has made sure that contact details are not visible or accessible by anyone else apart from those that are knowledgeable to the user. In fact, the changes have made it impossible to befriend people you do not know because when you request for friendship the other person has to confirm that she/he knows you.

In addition, the information that is shared on the Internet such as photos and updates is customized to ensure that it is only friends of that user who can see their updates, including when they are available on the site.

Effects of changes in Facebook

The changes introduced by Facebook will not affect users negatively and in fact it will make them safer because their contact details are safe with Facebook. Besides, people will feel safe and thus being loyal to the site, which increases the popularity of Facebook. This is because the changes mean that if someone is interested in having contact details of a specific user he/she has to send a message to that user requesting for such details and the user has the right to decline such requests.

Limiting the accessibility of user contact details means that the users have themselves to blame if they avail such details to persons that they are not familiar with. This move shifts the responsibility of safeguarding the information of users from Facebook management to the users. Thus, the average Facebook user is deemed to be satisfied with the new design because the site implements a user-centered approach in its business model.

Another Example Similar To This Case

There are many cases involving social networking sites, but most are not discussed in popular press. There is a case that was influenced by Facebook, but the only difference in this one is that it involved a man and his wife.

The wife was suspicious about her husband due to the comments she was making towards a certain female friend in the site which made her think that they were having an affair behind her back. They argued so much about the updates of the husband to a point where they had to separate so their marriage was ended by Facebook.

Personal Opinion about the Changes

The above case will not affect my use of Facebook in anyway because I am now sure that no one can have my contact details unless I personally give them out. Besides, no one can become my friend unless I allow them to become one because the new controls enable users to remove friends if they feel that they no longer need them.

I cannot quit using Facebook because it is through its platform that I am regularly updated about the events taking place in different parts of the world. Facebook provides the cheapest means of communication and besides that, staying out of it means that I would have very few friends because I do not have time to meet with friends physically rather than virtually.

Conclusion

The issues outlined by Canadians Privacy Commissioner show that the government of Canada is concerned about the privacy of its citizens. It also gives light on the need to improve our social life through Facebook without the fear of loss of privacy. In essence, people should not give out their contact details to strangers because they can do anything with them.

Facebook did a good thing by limiting access to contact details because incase any user was used in a mischief with another user, they would be held answerable. Since then, it has been easy for individuals and organizatios to use the site. While individuals use Facebook to find new friends and share information, corporate organizations and business people are using it to tell people about the kind of goods and services they offer.