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Debate: Social networking sites

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Are social networking sites generally beneficial to our world?

Background and context


Privacy: Do social networking sites uphold individual privacy?


Most websites have a privacy feature with which the user may make items such as their profile, pictures, or blog be made private or available to only their friends.


  • 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.
In the future, the information you have stored on Facebook could come back to haunt you. Even if you delete your profile, Facebook holds onto your information for what they decide is a “reasonable” amount of time."

Friendship: Are social networking sites benefiting friendships?


  • Social networking sites create great opportunities for making friends.


  • Social networking sites distract from quality interpersonal connections. The most valuable connections are not made over the Internet but in person-to-person interactions. While social networking can be used to establish person-to-person interactions, it more frequently results in massive amounts of time being spent online interacting at a distance.
  • Social networking sites make it possible to maintain fictional identity. Social networking sites allow people to create a "mask" and claim to be a completely different person from who they really are.

Professional networking: Do social networking sites benefit career networking?


  • Social networking sites create great opportunities for professional networking. Since "it's not what you know, but who you know", this is very important.
  • Social networking sites enable individuals to move toward making face-to-face meetings: Social networking sites are a starting place for face-to-face meetings between professionals.


  • Social networking sites do not allow for trusting professional relationships to be established. Face-to-face conversations and hand-shakes are still the most important element of sound professional networking.

Information: Are social networking sites a good place to exchange information?


e.g. On Facebook users are able to create pages devoted to certain areas of interest. Students who have Facebook are able to go to these pages and use this information.

  • Social networking sites are a great place to exchange information.


  • Social networking sites are a major distraction from learning. People are spending far too much time on social networking sites, and away from books, newspapers, and other educational resources. The information contained in social networking sites is generally shallow and trivial as compared to these other valuable sources of learning. Since there is limited time in the day and in life, that a growing proportion of that time is being spent by individuals on social networking sites is a major problem to the general education of the public.

Commercial use of info: Is the commercial use of personal information ethical?


  • Social networking sites have agreements that explicitly say that information can be used commercially in any way. If an individual doesn't want their information to be used commercially, than they shouldn't enter into agreements with these social networking sites. Or, they should close their account.
  • More targeted advertising is of greater value to the consumer. Why should we complain that advertisers will have more information about us to advertise to us things that we are more interested in buying? Advertising is not evil. Ads inform the consumer of a product that they may judge to be of value in their lives and worth spending money on. No product is being forced on consumers by ads, but offered as something that the consumer might deem worthy to purchase. Therefore, it should be welcome that social networking sites offer advertising firms information that can bring products of greater potential value to a particular consumer's attention.


  • It is unethical for social network sites to use personal information to enable advertisers to better target you as a consumer. Personal information should not be used for commercial purposes. It is too invasive, and can cause emotional damage. For example, what if your profile indicates that your boy friend just broke up with you, for example. An ad agency is allowed to obtain this information and use it to send you an advertisement on break-ups. This could do emotional damage.

See also

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