Privacy On Social Media Platforms

Privacy On Social Media

Blean Tsige


In this essay, the main aim is to scrutinize the issues social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have caused amongst the public. These companies have infringed on privacy, to an extent that the user's private data is not safe anymore. The private data tends to be sold to other companies, for big money, which has created controversies around the use of these platforms. In order, for the user and the companies to come to a common ground it is important to scrutinize whether it is possible to enhance the online experience,  by examining Trepte’s (2020) social media privacy model, which identifies four ways to make that possible. 


Upgrading Social Media Experience - Four Ways To Try To Worry Less About Privacy 

According to Trepte (2020), the social media privacy model suggests four propositions that could be identified in her research. With those four propositions, she has been able to explain how a person's social media use can better control privacy. Most social media users' privacy is vulnerable to being threatened by new tech companies. Her first proposition is related to comprehending the context of privacy (Trepte, 2020). She proposes that privacy is perceived and valued differently among people (Trepte, 2020).  However, it is necessary to evaluate what is considered private. The first solution that could be suggested in connection to that, is that there should be a clear definition of privacy. For example, it would be less complicated if people associate privacy with the non-observing state. This means that social media platforms should provide a place in which people can share and communicate without having to worry about being ‘watched’. 

The second proposition by Trepte (2020), deals with control. This is also a vital subject since most assume that control means security. Even though it is believed that a person's control over their own information is considered to be control over privacy, this statement is considered to be wrong (Marwick & Boyd, 2014). Social media's effect on privacy insinuates an effect on a person's control over their private data. This is because social media platforms persist in receiving this data from the person if the person wants to use their platform. This situation implies that any person who desires to use social media platforms is expected to give up control over their privacy, in other words, their private data. If the user gives up their control, social media platforms are able to use their private data to create a profit by selling their data to other companies. 


Figure 1. Is a picture that captures an ironic view point of the privacy issues on social media platforms.


Trepte (2020) argues that control is individualistic while social media is a more social concept. It can be also argued that a person is giving up control while using social media tools to connect or be social with others. In addition, Altman's (1990) theory of privacy focuses on the control aspect by the individual. He insinuates that it is important for the person and groups to be able to have control in selecting the data about themselves (Altman, 1990). The one solution that could be proposed by harbouring Trepet’s model, is to tackle the issue of privacy control. This could be completed if social media platforms would agree to direct people less. It might sound a bit unrealistic since internet platforms profit mainly from influencing and directing people towards certain products. However, a person should be able to have a button that should allow the user to choose/control whether they want to be influenced or directed by a certain market niche.

Trepte’s (2020) social media privacy model’s third proposition, indicates that interpersonal communication is a mechanism by which privacy can be assured and put into effect. Nonetheless, the amount of privacy offered on social media is limited, since they argue that it is part of a security schema. Through tracing communication online, social media platforms are able to prevent crimes or terrorism from happening. The solution, therefore, that has been offered is based more on the individual instead of asking the platform to change, as implied in the first two solutions. With this solution, the individual needs to understand to what extent they should share information online. Whatever they share during their conversation online, social media platforms are required to trace. This means as well that the conversation is saving information that the person is willing to give away. It is thus important to scrutinize what this person is willing to share within these conversations online. 


Figure 2. Depicts a visual representation of the surveillance viewers experience online.


As a result, if they share too much on the platforms it could be suggested that privacy is possibly taken for granted, and traditionally becomes only a concern when it is threatened. This threat, stemming from tech companies, such as social media platforms, has promoted most to reevaluate their control over privacy. Privacy is therefore a complex concept as regarded by Margulis (1977). The fourth proposition put forward by Trepte's (2020) model, concerns the “trust and norms function as privacy mechanisms that represent crystallized privacy communication” (Trepte, 2020, pg. 561). The solution that could be proposed here, challenges the privacy of communication. This means to what extent is territorial privacy necessary? In this case, one needs to learn how to communicate their concerns and the setting of limits needs to be adjusted so that the intrusion into domestic and other environments does not feel violated.  



In the end, one can notice that scrutinizing social media platforms' policies surrounding privacy control is challenging. This is because there is a lack of a clear definition of what everyone considers privacy. However, within this essay, there were four ways identified, by scrutinizing Trepte's social media privacy model. These four ways should be able to assist people to worry less about their privacy. Consequently, the four ways offer an upgrade to people's social media experience. 



Altman, I. (1990). Toward a transactional perspective: a personal journey. Environment and behaviour studies: the emergence of intellectual Traditions. Plenum, New York. 

Marguliss, S.T. (1977). Conceptions of privacy: current status and next steps. J. Soc Issues 33.

Marquis, S.T. (2003). Privacy as a social issue and a behavioural concept. J Soc issues 59.

Trepte, S. (2020). The Social Media Privacy Model: Privacy and Communication in the Light of Social Media Affordances. Oxford University Press. 

Westin, A. (1967). Privacy and Freedom. Atheneum, New York.