Privacy and Publicity: The two sides of social media
Posted by ajnystuen
In my interactions with social media, I have developed exactly one hard and fast rule. I never post anything online that I would be embarrassed by anyone seeing, from my mom to a complete stranger. For me, this isn’t a hard resolution to follow. My neurotic aversion to alcohol has helped tremendously in that endeavor, saving me from the inevitable incriminating Facebook pictures that have haunted so many people who posted them in the naiveté of the early years. But in my case, my choices on Facebook reflect the choices that I make in real life.
Socialnomics by Eric Qualman claims that for many, the reverse is true. That social media actually prevents bad behavior. In some ways, I agree that people are more aware of the damaging possibilities of instant internet access. However, I would propose that social media has adapted in order to reduce the need for users to adapt their lives in this way.
Always On by Naomi S. Baron details the lack of concern that Facebook users had in 2005-2006 for their privacy. I do believe that in the ensuing years, Facebook users have become far savvier about protecting their information. For example, currently users can block anyone from seeing their posts, even if they are friends. Thus a parent who is simply Facebook friends with their teenaged child may not actually be seeing a true representation of their child’s online activities and consequently that child may feel freer to engage in less pleasing behavior with at least perceived immunity.
Therefore some of the social control of Facebook is diminished, although it certainly is not removed entirely, as it does not hide content that others post or control other sites. I think that while people may now think twice about posting that compromising photo online, the knowledge of the consequences of being in that compromising position may not reach beyond the choice of whether or not to post the photo.
While I would argue that social media doesn’t prevent behavior as much on a personal level as Qualman claims, I do think that social media absolutely prevents and corrects poor behavior at a corporate level. While privacy benefits individuals, having a very public presence benefits corporations.
As Qualman points out, companies that use social media to solve customer problems end up improving their brand and their reputation right in front of an army of people who may not have otherwise known about that company’s effective customer service until they saw a problem solved quickly via Twitter.
I never knew that companies were using social media in this way, but it makes so much more sense to market yourself by publicly exhibiting good customer service in front of people rather than using the rhetoric of traditional marketing to try to convince people of a company’s good customer service. Corporations that don’t address the concerns of their customers in this way are missing out on a great opportunity to not only address problems, but to boost their brand overall.
Social media can so easily improve or damage a reputation, whether on an individual or corporate level, and we have to make choices knowing that because it can affect our futures.
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