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Journal Article

The Value Congruence of Social Networking Services‑a New Zealand Assessement of Ethical Information Handling  pp121-132

Tony Hooper, Tyrone Evans

© Oct 2010 Volume 13 Issue 2, ICIME 2010, Editor: Shaun Pather and Corrie Uys, pp97 - 196

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Abstract

Social networking sites on the Internet have enjoyed considerable media publicity recently. Whereas conventional social interactions leave behind no record, similar social interactions performed on social networking websites, can leave behind detailed and possibly permanent records. A literature review of social networking sites and personal privacy indicates that users may be unwary when interacting with specific social networking sites and unaware of the potential consequences of interaction, or they may deliberately ignore the risks in preference for publicity and personal relationships. A content analysis was carried out to compare the terms of use and privacy statements of six social networking sites with one another. The twelve principles of the New Zealand Privacy Act of 1993 were used in the coding template because they represent the agreed national values on information handling in New Zealand. The study demonstrated significant shortcomings in the contractual relationships between the users and social networking services that could be exploited in order to misuse personally identifiable data. It highlighted the need for users and organisations to be aware of the terms of use and privacy statements to which they become contractually bound, as well as to understand what the network may do with user’s information. Particular concern related to the accuracy of the information collected and the deletion of historic data. Social networking services terms of use and privacy statements appear to be more concerned with exculpatory clauses than demonstrating a concern for user security. Because many users, especially adolescents, are more driven by peer group pressure and the behavioural conventions of their age cohort than concern for the dangers they face when posting personal information, current theory on the role of trust in online transactions is failing to explain the contemporary behavioural phenomenon of SNS use. The social responsibility implications arising from this phenomenon and the accountability of SNSs for any misuse of personally identifiable information through their websites are discussed. Some areas for further research are suggested.

 

Keywords: social networking services, value congruence, New Zealand Privact Act 1993, privacy policies, personal security, personally identifiable information

 

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