Aporeticity of Privacy in New Media Environment

Aporeticity of Privacy in New Media Environment

Marzena Barańska (Jagiellonian University, Poland) and Monika Ewelina Hapek (Jagiellonian University, Poland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9100-9.ch001

Abstract

New media organizations provide their users with tools to manage access to the content and functionalities that are published in the digital space. However, such protection is only of apparent nature. For their users, corporations that operate in the new media environment create their own images as passive non-participants who hold some mythologized, auto-created competences to bring people together in the world without barriers. At the same time, focusing on the analysis of users' behavior, corporations are able to predict certain activities of their users. Considering such a context, a research question has been posed: who is more interested in new media users' privacy – users or new media organizations? In order to answer such a question and in accordance to the interpretative paradigm, an analysis of the economic policy of two new media organizations (Facebook social network, and Google corporation) is provided, including some tools they provide to their users. The study also presents the results of some previous research.
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Introduction

A need for privacy comes as a phenomenon which can be observed during an analysis of the social development of an individual. People as well as the above-mentioned need have evolved, however some attempts at defining privacy have been made quite recently. According to Georges Duby, the notion appeared in the 19th century in the Anglo-Saxon society (Duby, 1998, p. 9). The aim of the chapter is to provide a critical interpretation of the principles which have been formulated by new media organisations to form privacy, with particular consideration of mythologised entities that benefit from activities of new media users.

New media organisations provide their users with tools to manage access to the content and functionalities which are published in the digital space, as it can be observed on the example of Facebook. However, such protection is only of apparent nature. For their users, corporations which operate in the new media environment create their own images as passive non-participants who hold some mythologised, auto-created competences to bring people together in the world without barriers. At the same time, focusing on the analysis of users’ behaviour, corporations are able to predict certain activities of their users. Considering such a context, a research question has been posed: who is more interested in new media users’ privacy – users or new media organisations? In order to answer such a question and in accordance to the interpretative paradigm, an analysis of the economic policy of two new media organisations (Facebook social network, and Google corporation) is provided, including some tools they provide to their users. The study also presents the results of some previous research, according to which users use social media to establish and to maintain interpersonal contacts and to satisfy their curiosity by following their friends’ profiles. At the same time, information they are interested in comes only as a small fragment of data collected by new media organisations.

Aporia is defined as a difficulty in reasoning which apparently cannot be overcome (Kopaliński, 2000, p. 43). Robert Piłat believes that aporia occurs when the values of some variables, that is namely: some definite sets of situations and notions, generate questions which cannot be answered without negating previous beliefs on the basis of the same sets of situations and notions. (Piłat, 2013, p. 21)

In such a context, it is possible to state that aporia is understood as a paradox because it leads to some unexpected or contradictory conclusions.

Privacy comes as a treasured value both for users and for enterprises which operate in the new media environment. However, the motives they follow considering that question are very different. Despite their declaration about acting only as intermediaries who support maintenance of users’ interpersonal contacts, new media organisations treat their users’ data (namely: their privacy) - first of all - as a “product” supporting behavioural advertisement from which they benefit the most (Nissenbaum (in) Valentino-Devries, 2011, p. 32). New media users identify their privacy with a possibility of having control over access to information about them and with retaining their anonymousness (Taddei, Contena 2013, p. 822).

Such multi-dimensional perception of privacy and activities undertaken in order to protect data proves its aporetic character: on one hand, tools available in the new media environment and agreements with users (terms of use) are supposed to protect personal data of website users; on the other hand, they allow enterprises to access such data. The situation is similar for the users who wish to stay anonymous, but they still publish their personal details in the virtual space.

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