Social Media, Privacy & Surveillance

On May 15, 2012

Leslie Regan Shade.  (2012). Whose Radical Transparency? Why Privacy Rights are Necessary for the Facebook Generation. In Josh Greenberg & Charlene Elliott (Eds.), Communications in Question: Controversial Issues in Communication Studies, 2nd ed.  Toronto: Nelson Education. 

This article argues that governments have a constructive and necessary role to play in regulating and monitoring social network sites, and uses the social media company Facebook Inc. and its ever-evolving predicaments with privacy as a case study.  The “friending” culture that Facebook cultivates – implicit pokes and wall posts for sharing personal tid-bits, images and videos, important news and public events with friends, family, and colleagues, has also exposed our personal information to third-party marketers zealous to monetize this data, or even to governments, law officials and potential employers, eager to compile a dossier of our activities without our knowledge and consent. The architecture and terms of service on Facebook has a significant impact on the security and privacy of our personal information related to data collection, retention, distribution, and control.  In what follows, recent actions by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States requiring Facebook’s compliance with privacy legislation and the creation of transparent privacy settings and options for their users will be discussed. At stake are our privacy rights as consumers and citizens on social network sites.

Leslie Regan Shade & Tamara Shepherd. (2014). Tracing and Tracking Canadian Privacy Discourses: The Audience as Commodity. In Kirsten Kozolonka (Ed.),  Publicity and the Canadian State: Critical Communications Perspectives. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 215-234.

As threats to citizen rights of online privacy, immanent commodification and contextual integrity on social network sites have been central to recent policy discussions that explore whether federal privacy legislation has kept pace with technological developments. In this chapter, we situate recent Canadian policy documents from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) in light of their predecessors, the Instant World (Canada 1970) and Privacy & Computers (Canada 1972) reports issued by the now defunct Department of Communication. These earlier reports also raised privacy concerns, long before social network sites such as Facebook came to define what we take for granted today as mundane forms of everyday social networking. Here, we explore how the notions of immanent commodification and contextual integrity have been conceptualized and treated as policy issues—where regulation tends to lag behind technological innovation—throughout the intensification of networked communication over the last forty years.

Leslie Regan Shade. (2010). Contested Space: Protecting Or Inhibiting Girls Online? In Sandra Weber & Shanly Dixon (Eds.), Chapter 14 in Growing up Online: Young People and Digital Technologies (pp.229-247) Palgrave Macmillan. (Revised edition 2010, from 2007 original).

This chapter examines the way in which the emergence of new media has typically elicited disagreement, polarized responses and panic regarding children and the protection of childhood, particularly in so far as girls are concerned. Using a case study of MySpace and the US Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (DOPA), the chapter examines public discourses around childhood and the internet, as it relates to girlhood, exploring the interplay between public discourse and policy objectives. Adopting Alison Adams’ admonition that ethical debates about the social uses of information and communication technology (cyber-ethics) need to more pro- actively consider its gendered dimensions, this chapter also argues that internet policy on issues of sexual exploitation is inappropriately ‘gender-blind.’