Technology assessment employs social theory, social research, and ethics for assessing the impacts that specific technologies have on society. The purpose of this paper is to distinguish various causal logics of technology assessment, to introduce the approach of complex dialectical technology assessment and to apply this approach to the realm of social networking sites.
Social networking sites (SNS) are integrated world wide web-based information, communication, and community platforms that allow the creation of personal profiles, the upload and sharing of multimedia data, networking with other users with the help of “friends lists”, communication by tools such as e-mail, guest books, or forums. SNS combine a number of Internet technologies on one platform. In the list of the 100 most accessed web platforms, one finds the following SNS: Facebook (#2), Myspace (#12), VKontakte (#35), LinkedIn (#37), Orkut (#49), hi5 (#52), Kaixin001 (#54), Orkut.com (#63), Orkut India (#74), LiveJournal (#80), Mixi (#86), Renren (#92), Odoklassniki (#95)1. These data show that SNS are among the most popular web applications. It is therefore important to assess how the usage of SNS changes society. Technology assessment should be addressed by SNS research. However, depending on which approach of technology assessment one chooses, there will be a different assessment. It is therefore crucial to be aware of the different forms of technology assessment when assessing the impacts of SNS. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to grounding foundations of technology assessment in respect to SNS and young people.
This example shows that surveillance on SNS is a particularly important topic. I will show in section 3, how users assess surveillance on SNS.