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How to Protect Informational Safety in the Era of Social Media?
In modern liberal societies, maintaining the right to privacy of every individual has become one of the top priorities. Such need had developed into a more critical one when the world wide web, or simply the Internet, appeared. For instance, providing shared electronic databases throughout the healthcare system of the United States led to the implementation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 21, 1996. This legislation ensures data safety and security for medical information of healthcare users. Therefore, the crucial need to protect those was clearly determined more than twenty years ago.
Nevertheless, since social networking has been embraced throughout the world, the issue of maintaining the private information private indeed turned to be one of the most dramatic. The number of Internet users becomes more and more significant every day. People are active and constant users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and many other social media platforms. For example, in 2016, the global platform Statistica.com revealed the number of social media users which was 2.13 billion (Zhang and Gupta 1-2). To compare, in 2010, the very same platform reported that the number was 970 million (Zhang and Gupta 1-2). They readily share personal pictures and videos, interests, essential bibliographical information not even thinking about some third party, which can gather and use it with the specific purpose. It is a well-known fact that one of the roles of government is to protect individuals from any kind of harm which may be caused by other individuals. In the era of social networking, the government must ensure safety for individuals by, for example, preventing the spread of contaminated food and water, uncertified medications, and dangerous infections, but also has a responsibility to provide individuals with proper safety on the Internet. In this regard, it is essential to determine ways in which informational security may be maintained. For that, it is also critical to highlight who – and for what purpose – can obtain one’s personal information from social media in order to use it in one or another way, and how it can be harmful.
To begin with, there several groups that are potentially interested in the information social media users post on the Internet. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the nonprofit organization, which goals is to advocate for consumers, claims that the personal information of users can be obtained by advertisers, who are target users who may be interested in their product, and third-party software developers, who use the information to personalize applications which interact with the social network (“Social Networking Privacy…”). It is usually performed legally. On the other hand, the user’s information can be collected by online criminals, which means that it can be used to harm or harass individuals. The users often become victims of identity theft, spam, malware and Sybil attacks, social phishing, impersonation, hijacking, and fake requests (Zhang and Gupta 3). Besides, government agencies are also interested in this kind of information. Those typically monitor social media content, which is produced by users, in order to analyze the public’s mood, as well as its attitude and responsiveness to government-curated content (Wukich and Mergel 1). Any kind of data, which other individuals may have access to, such as photos and other media, age and gender, education, employment history, hometown, relationship status, contacts, interests, geographical location, IP address, browser type, operating system type, recent ‘likes’, is considered as essential. Therefore, social media may be viewed as a tool in politics as well.
However, not only security of personal information of individuals but also security and privacy organizations may be violated in one of those ways. Illegal attacks may compromise their business in general as well as question trustworthiness and reliability of the company. With the increased involvement of social media in multiple spheres, the need to improve methods which would address safety issues through the implementation of innovative and sophisticated strategies and programs. Such the need has become vital as the traditional methods no longer apply. In this regard, the Total Quality Management principles have been developed. Kontogiannis et al. claim that it is “a performance-oriented approach that gives organizations a sustainable advantage in the marketplace by establishing a safe work environment that is conducive to peak performance and continual improvement”(1). Therefore, the security of the information is one of the most critical features of each decent organization.
The informational safety in the organizations requires more complex strategic approach than one for individuals. Kontogiannis et al. distinguish several core elements which should be paid with the most attention of leaders of the organization: Those are “emphasis on performance assessment, employee empowerment, reliance upon robust methods of risk analysis, and continual improvement” (1). The informational safety belongs to the sphere of risk management. With the rapid growth of involvement in social media for promoting the products and services on the Internet, a broad spectrum of risk management standards has appeared. The main aim of those it to regulate and manage risks. Typically, rules consist of some principles and processes, which may be shared by different standards. It is crucial that a systematic plan which will target safety, its investment and improvement, recognize potential risks, their prevention, and developed methods of problem-solving; in case, the informational protection is violated. For example, one of such standards is ISO 31000:2009. It provides specific risk management principles as well as guidelines, which apply to both public or private organizations of any industry, various association, group, or separate individuals as well (Kontogiannis et al. 2). As follows, even though different companies may belong to different spheres of enterprise, the need to maintain the informational security as well as the methods by which it can be achieved are universal.
Ten core principles of the ISO 31000:2009 standard may be distinguished. First of all, it is essential that risk management aims to create of specific values as well protection of those. Additionally, risk management should be placed in the central position in every process which occurs in the organization (Kontogiannis et al.). Thirdly, the process of making decisions which may affect the organization must include the consideration of all potential risks. Fourthly, development of risk management should incorporate all information available. Fifthly, the two-way communication between leaders of the organization and other personnel should be established. Failure in generating meaningful interaction with employees typically affects comprehensive reporting of safety performance. As follows, the sixth principle is to define precisely the responsibility of risks and controls. The next principle refers to that risk management should be applied critically and on a regular basis. Besides, human and cultural factors should be taken into account (Kontogiannis et al.). What is more, addressing the safety issue is always dynamic. As follows, risk managing strategies should be quite responsive to change. It must assist in the continual progress of the organization (Kontogiannis et al.). Therefore, the standard takes into account multiple sides of the issue.
Social media has become ubiquitous in everyday life of separate individuals, organizations, and governments. At some point, sharing personal thoughts, ideas, news, and a lot of other essential information such as photos and video with a broad range of people – who may not be their or people they know in real life. What is more, the content which is being continuously created by the Internet users may be easily monitored in order to be used for political means. In this regard, the Internet can be considered as a sort of ecosystem in which every content-creating user needs to be protected. For that, such features as trustworthiness and security of critical social media as well as any other spaces on the Internet, like clouds, in which essential information of particular users and organizations is stored, have to be reached. It may be achieved by using strong passwords as well as be responsible for with whom the essential information is shared. For organizations, the informational security may be obtained through the reliable and professional risk management. As follows, the era of social media requires the Internet to be a credible and safe place. Therefore, the protection of the information should be a top priority for individuals, organizations, and other groups with vested interest and considered by them personally.
Kontogiannis, T., et al. “Total Safety Management: Principles, Processes and Methods.” Safety Science, vol. 100, 2017, pp. 128–142., doi:10.1016/j.ssci.2016.09.015.
“Social Networking Privacy: How To Be Safe, Secure And Social.” Privacyrights.Org, https://www.privacyrights.org/consumer-guides/social-networking-privacy-how-be-safe-secure-and-social.
Wukich, C., and Mergel, I. “Reusing Social Media Information In Government.” Government Information Quarterly, vol 33, no. 2, 2016, pp. 305-312. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.giq.2016.01.011.
Xueyu, Jin. “Information Sharing In The Era Of Social Media.” University Of Jyväskylä, 2016.
Zhang, Zhiyong, and Brij B. Gupta. “Social Media Security And Trustworthiness: Overview And New Direction.” Future Generation Computer Systems, 2016, Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.future.2016.10.007.