Privacy:Exploitation and Self-discolsure

I have used Instagram, the best app for iPhone 6s judged by Apple last December, for more than 2 years but just read its privacy policy this week.

What is the biggest lie you had ever told? As for me, the answer is “I have read Data Policy, including cookie use, and agree to all terms”. I click many times to sign up an account or to update my IOS system but never read it.Same as what Christian Fuchs said in his article that “capitalist prosumption is an extreme form of exploitation, in which the prosumers work completely for free” (Fuchs, 2012, p.145). Instagram also informs its users that they will share certain information such as cookie data with third-party advertising partners. Of course this policy is an opt-out policy, I have to accept it to use it. Therefore every time when I use Instagram, I have to bear some accounts that I don’t follow introducing their goods on my timeline. Unfortunately, maybe it is because I don’t use Instagram frequently, these advertisements never interest me at all.


Every one is a social animal, at least to a certain extent. While when we access to different websites, we always have different behaviors. According to my own experience, I agree with that “social web users tend to self-disclose more sensitive information when their friends and acquaintances also use it, but only within this group” (Taddicken, 2014, p.263). Taking my experience of using Instagram as an example, the reason I signed up an account at first was just to follow some celebrities, especially NBA players. What’s more, people in China had to use VPN to access Instagram, therefore not many my friends in my real life have an Instagram account. While as for WeChat, lots of my friends use WeChat and in the meanwhile I know all my WeChat friends in reality. Therefore I post much more my daily life on WeChat than what I do on Instagram.

Even if sometimes I post the same photo on these two app, I will use different descriptions. For example, I posted photo as above to both to WeChat and Instagram. On Instagram, I described this photo as “a stroll through the woods” while describing with more self-information, like where am I and who I going with, on WeChat because I know all WeChat friends are my acquaintances.

To be honest, even if I read these two articles and watched the video this week, and I know websites may “steal” my information(although they have informed me that they will), maybe I won’t read these policies because they are so long. What’s more, in my own perspective, if there should only one role protect our information, it should be websites rather than ourselves.

Just as what Gary Kovacs said, privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.


5 thoughts on “Privacy:Exploitation and Self-discolsure

  1. Hi Lin’Ao,
    I think I have the same feeling as you that although I read these two articles and watched the video, I will be more likely not to read the privacy policy. The main reason is that because social media websites made difficult for us to read their policy. To explain, they made them very long, and they are always displayed with tiny font, and the agreement statement is always larger and easy to click on it. They remind me of the terms and policies you have to read and accept when you want to get a loan or credit card from the bank or rent an apartment from a company. All the terms are more likely to serve their interest, not ours. Another reason for not reading the privacy policy is that when people sign to a social media website they are eager to quickly see what this website is about and what surprise is hiding for them, so they are more likely to go quickly through the registration processes without thinking much about the privacy terms.


  2. Talking about advertising, I have the same feeling with you. Because when I updated my instagram, I found there are some information which should not be in my updates. What’s more, I found no way to solve this problem. However, I cannot stop to use instagram because many friends use instagram to show their social life and connect with me. It is all about social relevance. It shows strong connection between self-disclosure and social relevance. Besides, as you said, “if there should only one role protect our information, it should be websites rather than ourselves”, I think it is true. Because nowadays more and more websites obscure their ethic boundary. As for me, selling or leaking users’ privacy information is representative of ethics losing. However, all in all, blaming their unethical behavior didn’t work at all. Protecting our privacy should be considered with more aspects, and as users, we are ought to struggle for this.


  3. Hah, I just have the very similar experience with you. The reason I start using Weibo, about 5 years ago, is I want to keep every updates to my idol. I would say a majority of users on Weibo do not sign in with their real name, never post their personal life, but probably what are interested in, like celebrities, funny jokes, politic news, etc. So I actually separate my personal disclosure and the information about my idol apart by having two accounts. And one of them I only have very few friends from acquaintances but almost people share the same interest with me. Actually I always see self-introductions like “this is a place only for XXX, friends in my real life please do not follow me” on Weibo.
    So on the former account, I can, to some extent, escape from my front region, I can disclose things like “oh my gosh, he looks so hot in the video!” with a link below at 3 am. and never caught by my mom. But there is one time my mom come and asked me “you went to Beijing for the concert?!” That was a couple of days before my TOEFL test so she did not want me to go. She said she learned it on my Weibo, but I have no idea how she could get that since she only follows me with account about my real life.


  4. When we are using a site mainly to observe or follow others, you’re right, we care very little about the privacy policy. But even then, the site knows WHO you are following, and if you like or share.


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