In the developed and in parts of the developing world, surveillance societies have started to emerge. Surveillance societies are societies which function, in part, because of the extensive collection, recording, storage, analysis and application of information on individuals and groups in those societies as they go about their lives. Retail loyalty programmes, website cookies, national identity schemes, routine health screening and no-fly lists all qualify as surveillance. Each features, in different measure, the routine collection of data about individuals with the specific purpose of governing, regulating, managing or influencing what they do in the future. This is our understanding of surveillance. Surveillance is something which can confer access, entitlement and benefit as well as something which is dangerous, oppressive and discriminatory. Individuals now actively manage their own data profiles knowing they will be able to customize and improve their services as they do so.
Take Facebook’s history with privacy for an example, Facebook’s approach to privacy was initially network–centric. By default, students’ content was visible to all other students on the same campus, but no one else. Through a series of redesigns, Facebook provided users with controls for determining what could be shared with whom, initially allowing them to share with “No One”, “Friends”, “Friends–of–Friends”, or a specific “Network”. When Facebook became a platform upon which other companies could create applications, users’ content could then be shared with third–party developers who used Facebook data as part of the “Apps” that they provided. The company introduced privacy settings to allow users to determine which third parties could access what content when; users encountered a message whenever they chose to add an application. Over time, Facebook introduced the ability to share content with “Everyone” (inside Facebook or not). Increasingly, the controls got more complex and media reports suggest that users found themselves uncertain about what they meant (Bilton, 2010). Recognizing the validity of this point, Facebook eventually simplified its privacy settings page (Zuckerberg, 2010)
In conclusion, we get information from digital media platforms, but at the same time, there are the high risks that we under the surveillance. It’s unavoidable for this information society. Almost all facilities, websites or social platforms will ask for your personal information, so anyone can easily search you on the Internet. Even the travel website will change their prices to show you which depends on your booking records. Under the digital society, we are not safe.
Gilliom, J. & T. Monahan (2012). SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press. ‘Introduction’, pp.1-10.
Boyd, D. & E. Hargittai (2010). ‘Facebook Privacy Settings: Who cares?’, First Monday 15(8).