FACEBOOK'S RADICAL TRANSPARENCY:THE ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR PRIVACY IN AMERICA
Rohrer, Donna Weatherly
White, Gladys B
Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg on the radical social premise that transparency will permeate modern life and will be a force for social good. However, what Facebook actually accomplishes is not as benign as its founder envisions. The social networking site's continual introduction of features that encourage millions of users to share more data about themselves online with an ever-wider network of `friends' poses an intriguing ethical question: What will be lost if privacy is no longer there?Although the global transparency movement offers benefits to people struggling to obtain greater freedom from oppression in all its forms, it also brings perils, as transparency is used as an instrument of control and power over people. The answer to the question is that without privacy, which is derived from and essential to basic democratic liberties, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press, there is no modulating influence on the disruptive invasions that Facebook and other Internet providers can wreak on personal dignity and autonomy. The European Union approach to privacy illustrates principles that can be applied to restore balance among sometimes competing rights in America, both for individuals and the larger social good.Facebook's radical transparency requires that policymakers adjust the levers among the four ethical constraints that define the Internet, as Lawrence Lessig first identified: law, market forces, social norms, and the architecture, or code. The social goods and individual human flourishing that privacy enables is essential to balancing the panopticon effects of such Web 2.0 practices as data aggregation and storage and data mining.Remedies to restore equilibrium include application of privacy enhancing technologies (PET) to give citizen-consumers tools to better control access to personal information, policies to incentivize Internet businesses, and rules to establish the principles of limited use, expiration dates, contextual integrity and the pluralist social values that will sustain civility and community in the information age.
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