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Debate: Facebook news feed and privacy

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Is Facebook's news feed feature a violation of personal privacy?

Background and context

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Motions: What are the motions or general positions of the pro/con cases.

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Yes

  • This house believes news feed is a force for bad.
  • This house believes news feeds violate individual privacy.
  • This house proposes news feeds should be eliminated from Facebook.
  • This house proposes that news feeds should be set to "opt-in" opposed to "opt-out"


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No

  • This house believes that Facebook news feed is a valuable social tool.
  • This house believes that Facebook news feeds do not violate privacy.
  • This house believes that an "opt-out", "switch-off" button for news feeds is a sufficient privacy control for users.



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Yes

  • Facebook news feeds generally makes people feel exposed and invaded: Danah Boyd, social networking scholar and blogger noted in 2006, "privacy is an experience that people have, not a state of data....When people feel exposed or invaded, there's a privacy issue."[1]
  • Many Facebook users don't understand the privacy implications of allowing news feeds (Therefore, News Feed should be an opt-in rather than an opt-out function). While it is true that users can opt-out of News Feed, this assumes that they would understand the implications of not opting out. The implication of not opting out of news feed is quite profound. Users can view every action you take on Facebook. This creates a general window of public observation of an individual's activities that can have a profound effect on the behaviour of that individual. Some cite this environment of constant observation as a panopticon, a “constant view of individuals through parasocietal mechanisms that influence behavior simply because of the possibility of being observed.” This environment of the constant potential for observation and surveillance dramatically effects behavior by making individuals constantly on-guard under the public observation glass. Yet, those that choose not to opt-out of "news feed" are not likely to consider the profound behavioral implications of these actions.
  • Social networking sites give too great of access and control to governments. ACLU. "Facebook Not as Private as You Might Think" Retrieved 11.29.07 - "Thanks to some pre-Internet Supreme Court cases such as Smith v. Maryland, the Fourth Amendment does not apply to information held by a third parties like Facebook. The government does not need to have a court-ordered warrant to obtain your personal information held by Facebook- it just needs to ask for it with a subpoena.
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No

  • Facebook's news-feed now has an off-switch, giving users the choice to adjust privacy settings. Choice is essential to privacy. If users can adjust privacy settings, than privacy issues largely disappear. It can no longer be argued in this context that Facebook or other social networking sites are violating the privacy of their users. Rather, the issue becomes that users are voluntarily opening themselves up to the world at their own risk.
  • Public information has a moderating effect on individuals. It is good that information about individuals is made more public. Social judgment has a positive moderating effect. Confucius actually said that he was very lucky that all of his actions were publicly scrutinized, as it ensured that he was careful and prudent in making decisions. Similarly, News Feed may make an individual think twice before they join an extremist group on Facebook, as it might risk a negative backlash of judgment from those in their network that view that action on News Feed.
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Yes

  • Students Against Facebook News Feed - Facebook group with 700,000 members.



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No

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