Being used by hundreds of millions of people every day, online social networks have become a major platform for communication. Nowadays, such platforms are a popular tool to improve information search and promote social interaction. However, apart from the revolution generated by social networks, they may also pose a potential threat to their users (Sheikheldin, 2018). Security concerns are associated with large amounts of personal data which could be accessed by third parties in a variety of ways (Mohanty, Bhuyan, & Chenthati, 2015). Some examples of security threats include fiscal fraud, spamming, malware, phishing, and spoofing.
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Big companies like Facebook have been reported to leak user data to marketers who use it to predict human behavior. It is worth mentioning that Facebook is among companies that restore default settings after each update, which is why users cannot make use of available security features (Garcia, 2017). As a result, the Facebook pages of these users may be easily accessed by others. However, privacy is not only providers’ responsibility but also users’ one as they should also ensure data protection (Brown, Duguid, & Weinberger, 2017). It would be interesting to expand this view from a practical perspective.
Privacy issues and protective measures addressing the challenges of big data in online social networks are current problems in the field of information technology. The importance of investigating privacy issues is reiterated by a great number of users suffering from the data breach (Garcia, 2017). Having been significantly impacted by technology, human behavior has reshaped in such a manner that it heavily relies on data and technological platforms (Acquisti, Brandimarte, & Loewenstein, 2015). Buying through the Internet and sharing social life through online social platforms are just two forms of such dependence on modern technology.
With the user information being so vulnerable, it is important for users to reduce their exposure to privacy issues. Despite the fact that the majority of privacy threats posed by online social networks are related to the internet infrastructure on which they operate, the way people use these services also matters (Pimple, 2013). Some of the security risks stem directly from the user behavior and the nature of utilization of these services. Adaptation of human behavior in accordance with the current realities of the digital world will enable to reduce the number of privacy concerns.
Research Question and Methodology
The research question on which the research will focus is: “What are current privacy issues associated with the inappropriate use of online social networks?”. Based on the research question, a methodology should be developed in order to identify such security problems. The given research will employ a qualitative method involving analysis of secondary sources which discuss the privacy issues in social networks.
Several articles published within the last five years will be selected from qualified sources. Apart from relevance, the main criterion for the selection of articles will be their focus on a user-related part in the privacy issues. All the selected sources will be then critically appraised in order to answer the research question in detail and classify privacy issues related to human behavior. Strategies for user education about the application of online social networks will be elaborated so as to increase awareness of privacy threats that users create by themselves.
The qualitative method will provide a rich and detailed picture of the research issue. It is expected that this method will enable a researcher to get an in-depth understanding of the actions of users that have a direct connection to security threats. A review of several credible articles will help ensure that the scope of the research is wide and data obtained is relevant. The quantitative method of research has not been chosen since it is based on observation and numerical data, both of which are rather difficult to obtain given the specificity of the research question. It should also be stated that quantitative research is time-consuming, and its scope is relatively limited.
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Importance and Limitations of the Selected Research Problem
The chosen research problem is highly important due to the fact that most of the privacy risks come from the nature of the use of social platforms. In particular, users usually share sensitive data which attract hackers, have a high level of trust toward other users of social networks, and do not read Terms and Conditions of Use carefully. Determination of privacy issues arising due to human behavior will not only contribute to the research in the field of information technology but also help increase the users’ awareness of dual responsibility.
Possible risks associated with the investigation of the research question include the lack of credible sources, which are needed for adequate and thorough research, as well as the need to focus on a specific platform. Since the keystone of qualitative research is the information used for further analysis, it is crucial to ensure that only appropriate sources have been chosen. Limitations of the research are thus tied to the limitations of the literature on which it will be based.
Acquisti, A., Brandimarte, L., & Loewenstein, G. (2015). Privacy and human behavior in the information age. Science, 347(6221), 509-514.
Brown, J. S., Duguid, P., & Weinberger, D. (2017). The social life of information: Updated, with a new preface. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
Garcia, D. (2017). Leaking privacy and shadow profiles in online social networks. Science Advances, 3(8), e1701172.
Mohanty, H., Bhuyan, P., & Chenthati, D. (Eds.). (2015). Big data: A primer. New Delhi, India: Springer.
Pimple, K. D. (Ed.). (2013). Emerging pervasive information and communication technologies (PICT): Ethical challenges, opportunities, and safeguards. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.
Sheikheldin, G. (2018). Liberation and technology: Development possibilities in pursuing technological autonomy. Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: Mkuki na Nyota.