Social media is a staple in most students lives. Scratch that, social media is a staple in most people’s lives. The problem is that social media is not that safe, private or reliable. My favorite social media application is Instagram. I love to take pictures and this app makes me feel like an artsy photographer even though I am the farthest thing from it. A few months ago there was a huge controversy with Instagram because they were changing their terms and conditions. Under these new terms and conditions any company would be able to use your pictures that you took and posted as their advertisement photos. This was a huge deal among students my age. Should we keep using this awesome app? Should we stop using it? Well I decided to keep using it as well as most of my friends did but this situation definitely made me think. It just went to show that you use all of these social media applications to express yourselves and while doing so you make yourself so vulnerable and almost everything you say is public. You do not even own the rights to the things that you say or the pictures and videos that you post. Even when you put your accounts on private they can still be accessed. So why do we chose to make ourselves so defenseless to the users on the internet? Are we that dumb that we do not know any better? Or is it that we just simply do not care?
I believe that it is a little bit of both. We are naïve enough to think we are untouchable, that our words are just words and nothing more. But people can take things very personally and over react, making something out of nothing. I also think we just do not care because we can say what we want to say. People are never prepared for the repercussions though because somewhere someone is willing to say something and prove their point. When I scroll through the timeline on my twitter feed I see posts about everything from politics to sports to just random things that only the writer cares about. Many of these posts can be very controversial, I remember in the beginning of last year before elections many of the people I followed on twitter began expressing their political views and preaching about their beliefs. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this but I think there is a time and place for everything. Especially when someone tweets their beliefs and someone who disagrees feels compelled to respond- and here we have a twitter fight. Back and forth ridiculous comments that blow up our timelines, entertain us and also annoy us. I do not believe that people should keep their comments to themselves. After all we have freedom of speech and the right to express ourselves however we want to.
As the digital age unfolds I think that social media applications need to step up and change their terms and conditions so they can protect their users better. I know many sites do not think it is their responsibility but I do not think it is right that other people can use the things people post as a tool to benefit themselves or businesses. In Kathy Gill’s article she talks about a lawsuit regarding Twitter. The Washington Post had used a person’s pictures on twitter and published them elsewhere. In order for incidents like this to be avoided social media sites need to make stronger terms and conditions. They also need to make these terms and conditions clearer, these blurred lines make these cases drawn out and more complicated than they need to be. If terms and conditions were cut and dry the problems would be almost nonexistent. In addition I think users need to read terms and conditions that way they can be better educated on what they are using on a daily basis. People will continue to use social media, and the users of social media will continue to post whatever their hearts desire. I am also positive that there will be plenty of cases brought to court regarding social media and copyright infringement. The only question that remains is how will the social media end deal with all of these problems?