Privacy Security

Table of Content:

  • Introduction
  • Anonymity Issue
  • Terms of Agreement
  • Perceived Harm


The internet has become an inseparable part of people’s daily lives. Internet usage is increasing yearly. Moreover, the age of users that start using the internet decreases. How many times have you heard of children between the age of 4 and 10 who already have a Facebook account and are active users of the internet? According to the graph, 7.59% of users are children from 2 to 11 years old while 11.09% are from 12 to 17 years old.


These children and teenagers grow using the internet which affects their mental growth and maturity. The use of the internet has become engrained in their lives and affected how they view themselves and the world, contributing to their personality. They become exposed to a lot of issues that affect their choices such as internet privacy and security issues. For example, they have to choose who views their Facebook profile. How private do they want their Facebook account to be? Do they read the terms of agreement of social networks? Do they want to be anonymous internet users or not? How do they protect themselves and their personal information? These are some of the issues we deal with on a daily bases.



Because this generation grew up in the digital age, we learned from an early age to make unconscious decisions about our existence on the digital world and the extent of personal information shared on the internet. But nowadays, experts have been trying to guide users to more conscious, if not cautious, decisions. Moreover, with daily incidents of hacking, sabotaging, identity theft and other incidents related to identity on the internet, users are becoming more and more conscious of their security on the internet.

Concerning privacy, users vary from one extreme to another. Some users share, what experts might consider, too much personal information. Meanwhile, others choose to be completely anonymous, going to extreme measures to ensure that they could not be traced. But is anonymity a good or a bad concept? Like almost anything, anonymity and pseudonymity can be used for good and bad purposes. Moreover, the use of anonymity depends on the purpose of the user and what suits his/her personality. At the same time, the security and privacy measurements that a person chooses define who s/he is and how s/he builds his/her online identity. Therefore, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of anonymity and pseudonymity.


  1. Like what happened in Egypt, and the Arab world in general, users in political repressive countries have the exigency to share their political views and criticize the government. Therefore, they may use anonymity to avoid oppression and persecution for their political views.
  2. Anonymity eliminates elements like inhibition and embarrassment about openly discussing personal, intimate or embarrassing issues and facts such as sexual problems, or sexual orientation in countries like Egypt and the Arab world. Therefore, anonymity provide the tool for users who have the exigency to share and discuss too intimate or embarassing facts. “Research shows that anonymous participants disclose significantly more information about themselves.”
  3. People may receive objective evaluation and response about their work rather than about their personality or personal issues. In other words, the response could be to the material rather than the person.
  4. Because of anonymous, people may stand on equal grounds since issues like status, gender, religious believes, sexual orientation etc., will not affect the interaction and the response of what they say.
  5. Pseudonymity gives users the freedom to be whoever they want to be, freeing them from social constraints. In other words, they can experiment with role playing.
  6. Pseudonymity can help timid people to establish contacts which can be of value for them and others, e.g. through contact advertisements.


  1. Anonymity can be used to the advantage and to protect a criminal performing many different crimes, such as slander, distribution of child pornography, illegal threats, racial agitation, fraud, intentional damage such as distribution of computer viruses, etc.
  2. It can help criminals to gather information and seek contacts for performing illegal acts, such as a pedophile searching for children to abuse or a swindler searching for people to con.
  3. It can be used for offensive or disruptive communication such as bulling.
  4. Being anonymous might affect your readership, people won’t trust what is written anonymously.

This video talks about the psychosocial impacts of internet anonymity:



Because of the speed of the internet, people have become impatient, wanting to get to the end result as fast as possible. Very few people actually read the entire terms of agreement, or even a few lines of it, when they are signing up to a new website or an online social network. Because they don’t read the terms of agreement, they become unaware of a lot of issues that have to do with their own and their information security and privacy. “Whenever you sign up to use a service on the Internet, you are entering into a contract that controls your use of the service, the content you post, who owns posted content, if the service can be used commercially, if the service provider can change the contract without notifying you in writing, etc,” (Conard).

For example, Facebook’s terms of agreement stats: “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License")” (Facebook). I personally was not aware that the photos and videos that I post on Facebook are now owned by them until a year ago when I was informed in an Online Communication Class. Moreover, when a person uses an application and it asks for the person’s consent to have access to his/her profile, the application or advertisement have complete access to the information and can use it as they like. According to Harvey Jones and Jose Hiram Soltren, their survey showed that 46% of Facebook users are unaware of the fact that Facebook could share their information with third parties (23).

Another example is LinkedIn where they state in their terms of agreement: “You grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including but not limited to any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties” (LinkedIn). So, basically this means that LinkedIn has the authority to use anything that a member posts in anyway at any time they want.

As for YouTube, the terms of agreement state that “you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service,” (YouTube). This means that not only does YouTube have the authority to use whatever is posted in anyway at any time but that any other member of YouTube can access and use whatever is posted in anyway at any time they want.

Therefore, because most people don’t read the terms of agreement before they agree to it, they are unaware of the ramifications of it and that whatever they post on social networks becomes the property of these websites to be used in however way they want to. Moreover, whatever they post is mostly public and used by internet users. This leads to the harm that can be caused because of social networks.



Internet users usually have the exigency to to represent themselves and express themselves on the internet and social networks. Therefore, they tend to share their personal information, their likes, dislikes, their photos… Meanwhile, they disregard or are unaware of the danger of sharing too much personal and intimate information. Social networks and the information posted on it lead to a lot of harm in different ways. Photos posted on social networks can be copied, edited and used in harmful manner. Moreover, recently, universities started monitoring social networks and the accounts of their students. Finally, employers and companies started screening possible candidates and employees by viewing their social network accounts.

Posting and sharing photos on social networks has become dangerous for several reason. For one thing, once the photos are on the internet, it is hard to control or protect them. They can be copied, manipulated, edited and reposted which can create harm for the original owner of the photos. For example, there was a case where Agence France-Presse sold photos about the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to CNN and CBS (Moscovici). Agence France-Presse obtained these photos from the Twitter account Daniel Morel and sold it without his permission and without compensating him (Moscovici). Another thing is that digital photos can be used to track people, whether they are the ones who posted the photos or not, who do not want to be found. With the advancements in machine reading and software scanning, they can help to extract information from images such as data about where and when a shot was taken, and what or who is in the frame (Milian). “ released an app called Photo Finder, which looks for familiar faces in images on Facebook in an attempt to find a person's photos that haven't already been tagged manually,” (Milian). This can lead to multiple types of harm. A person can be hiding from dangerous abusive spouses or partners or don’t want to be found for any other reason. Moreover, embarrassing photos can be held against a person during an admission into a university or an interview for a job.

Universities have started to monitor social networks to view their students actions which might lead to harm the students. “Administrators are using Facebook to learn about their students… and their students' activities,” (Jones and Soltren, 29). In one case in 2005, a student studying at Fisher College in Boston, MA, was expelled from the school and barred from the campus because he created a Facebook group committed to the dismissal of a campus security officer believed to regularly overstep the limits of his line of duty (Jones and Soltren, 30).

Moreover, companies and employers started reviewing the applicants’ profiles on social networks. According to Jay Schultz, employers search for applicants profiles because: it public information about the applicants, to cross-reference and insure the accuracy of the resumes, and get a sense about the applicants in an informal setting (7, 8). An article written by The Northwestern University newspaper, North by Northwestern, discusses a case where a student discovered that companies refused to interview regardless of her strong GPA and resume because of her Facebook account (Schultz, 5). “A Dartmouth University newspaper interviewed one employer who admitted to using Facebook in order to research and screen his applicants.” (Schultz, 5). Employers look at candidates profiles to get an idea about their interests and a sense of their maturity and professionalism (Schultz, 6).


Therefore, internet users have to be aware of the dangers of sharing too much or too personal information on social networks and on the internet in general. The information posted on the internet can cause personal and professional damage to a person. Consequently, internet users have to use protection and privacy measurements.


Conard, Sandy. “Beware Social Networking Terms of Agreement Contracts.” Squidoo.

Demner, Dina. “Children on the Internet.” University of Maryland. April 2001.

Jones, Harvey, Jose Hiram Soltren. “Facebook: Threats to Privacy.” December 14, 2005.

Milian, Mark. “Online photos: Are they new digital fingerprint?” CNN. April 8, 2011.

Moscovici, Jason. "Social networking and unauthorized copy: Who owns your pictures?" The Gazette. May 27, 2011.

Palme, Jacob, Mikael Berglund. “Anonymity on the Internet.”

Schultz, Jay. “Facebook Creeping! The Ethics Involved With Employers Usage of Facebook.” 25 Nov. 2008.

“Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” Facebook.

“Terms of Service.” YouTube.

“User Agreement.” LinkedIn.