Part 2a: Privacy and Publicity

Privacy is a major concern that is highly debated when the surge of digital technology is discussed. This especially as a result of the accessibility of information made possible by the Internet and media, and the general structure and functioning of our contemporary, connected society. So, although technically privacy of the individual is protected by government legislation, there is always a prevalent threat of privacy being breached to some extent. Although with this being said, as digital technology advances and the paranoia surrounding the risk of privacy invasion increases, privacy policy is improved and features of online identity are becoming harder to track where security settings are well adjusted.


Statistics show that 1 in every 3 people now use Facebook, 50% of which log on every day,with 12,800,00 being Australian users. Furthermore, the age demographic of Facebook users shows that about 67% of this number is made up people aged 18-29, showing that the majority of users are part of the younger generation. The inevitable vulnerability of privacy is becoming increasingly apparent as the use of social media rises in popularity, with users constantly updating personal images and information. As was mentioned in the lecture this is referred to as interactional information: “information that is collected about you through your interaction with a service, or an app, or a device” (Hinton, 2013).

Additionally in reference to the lecture, the challenge in controlling how information is shared online is expanding with the digital technologies that exist today. This is occurring due to companies monitoring and storing personal details, as well as security features on devices such as location data, tagging by friends and hyperlink tracking, IP address data and cookies. Furthermore, J. J. Britz has highlighted that there are ethical issues associated with the electronic monitoring of people in the workplace, the interception of e-mail messages, databanking of personal information and data stored by use of fre-quent shopper cards.

“Information is private when a person can control access to it herself, or when she can be at least relatively secure in her expectation of being able to monitor access to and disclosure of information,” (Roessler & Mokrosinka, 2013, p. 772). Though this leads us to question whether digital technologies should be held entirely accountable for this ‘breach of privacy’ or is it still in the user’s power to decide on the amount of personal information they upload online? Rather than technological advancements being blamed for encouraging users to participate in this, is it instead a lack of awareness of the potential threat to privacy of the users who are posting this information?


Jurgensen and Ray (2012) resist the notion that digital technologies are affecting users’ privacy in either an absolute positive or negative way. They demonstrate the idea that it is of common belied that privacy cannot exist concurrently whilst publicity through technology and media prevails. Although they argue that this is based on false premises, and that there is rather a, “dialectical relationship, where privacy and publicity are deeply intertwined, mutually reinforcing, and perhaps both increasing as digital information grows more ubiquitous.” They compare the symbiosis of privacy and publicity to themovement revealed in fan dancing, suggesting the metaphor that the ‘seduction of social media’ is enforced by the fact that, “privacy can create conspicuousness and publicity can conceal.”


Hinton, S. (Performer). (2013, October 8). Privacy and Publicity (Week 9 Lecture).

Roessler, B., & Mokrosinka, D. (2013, 07 19). Privacy and Social Interaction. Retrieved 10 31, 2013, from Sage Publications:


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