Fame Game.

Group Members:

  • Anithra Ratnayake
  • Alice Kurowski
  • Yasmin Allaf
  • Jackson Woolan

Celebrity is a concept that everyone of us is all too familiar with in the world that we live in today. It is a status that can be somewhat hard to achieve, as it is a business that is extremely hard to infiltrate and even harder to be successful in.Although it is a difficult industry to get into, it is still a profession that many people aspire to have. The argument can be made by some that the money and recognition that comes with fame, outweighs the negative aspects of it.

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                                                                 Picture taken by Jackson Woolan

For our video, we decided to portray an exaggerated version of the celebrity lifestyle. Due to their elevated status, people essentially act as though celebrities don’t deserve the same rights and that privacy is a privilege and ultimately the price they must pay for fame. This then forces them to live in a world of constant
surveillance denying them of their basic rights to privacy.

Having an extensive list of options let us select a topic and genre which everyone felt comfortable working with and also complimented the variety of talents within our group. It also encouraged us to think creatively and explore topics which interested and challenged us, therefore making us feel more connected and involved in the work we were creating.

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Our Protagonist, Alice (No Last Name)

The variety of skills and strengths we had allowed us to create a detailed concept for our video and execute it effectively. After deciding that our video would focus on celebrity surveillance, the next step was deciding on the style in which we wanted the story we were telling to be presented.

We considered a more serious news/documentary style film resembling the TV show E! True Hollywood Story and even considered going completely out of our comfort zones and attempting to portray our ideas in the form of a broadway musical. Ultimately however, our singing chops proved to be less than adequate which prompted us to rely on our sense of humour as opposed to our vocal cords.

In the end, we settled on the mockumentary genre as we all agreed that humour was the best way to get our message across. Without dwelling too much on the dark side of celebrity privacy, we did elude to the fact that being a celebrity is not always as glamorous as made out to be.

This was portrayed through the journey of our protagonist, Alice. Her rise and fall to fame showed some of the hardships of being a celebrity such as constantly being surveilled by paparazzi and the public.

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Magazine cover for our protagonist Alice (No Last Name) created via canva

The way Alice deals with and reacts to her fame represents the way in which celebrities are portrayed as these unattainable people that many of us  aspire to be and how this treatment can make them believe they are above others, which is clearly demonstrated in the video during Alice’s interview with Yasmin.

Alice’s ultimate downfall was a combination of inflated ego and frustration with the overwhelming obsession with her life, both private and public. Although he didn’t have the same outcome, we drew inspiration for our protagonist from world-famous celebrity Justin Bieber who has become infamous for his outbursts and wrongdoings. Claiming that he believes he is not recognised as a human, Bieber said he feels “like a zoo animal” incapable of keeping his sanity.

We also argue towards the end, that even though Alice tries to ‘quit’ being a celebrity, the reality is that she will never really be able to do so. Once you have gained significant public interest, the chances of you ever becoming ‘normal’ again is slim to none. Celebrities like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan are proof of this, as although they are long past their days of living in the spotlight, they struggle to escape the fame and lack of privacy.

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Anithra Taking a Selfie break while editing our video

To create our video, we engaged in many forms of media to complete a number of specific processes. This included, brainstorming, scripting, rehearsing, refining, producing and editing to make sure our end product was professional and entertaining but overall demonstrated the key surveillance message in relation to the topic we chose.

As with creating any forms of media, a number of specific processes needed to be undertaken, this was no exception to our video presentation. Our group worked individually and together to progress through the many stages of media making. Going through these processes was critical as it allowed us to stay on track and collaborate effectively. It was crucial that we worked together as a team as the majority of the time we were working online and therefore had to ensure we all completed our work in a timely manner as constructive feedback was imperative to creating good content.

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Anithra and Yasmin preparing to film a scene.

Online collaboration was critical in allowing us to collaborate from a distance, helping us to give constructive feedback and also to have an input on how the video came together. Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Skype and Dropbox became our preferred modes of communication. Each of these apps proved to be extremely useful when it came to collaborating as it effectively allowed us to communicate and share files with each other while simultaneously working together on one document.

At the end of the day, the topic we chose and the methods through which we chose to collaborate aided us in not only completing a project that we are proud of, but also one that we had a lot of fun doing. No two people are alike, and that was no exception for our group. Working with different skill sets and personalities enabled us not only to produce an accurate representation of our ideas, but also taught us a couple of skills that we will take away with us long after graduation.

Below is the final result of our collaborative video, we hope you enjoy watching it just as much as we enjoyed making it!

Images Used:

Hollywood by Eva Luedin CC BY 2.0

Red Carpet by Allan Light CC BY 2.0

Somewhere Inside the machine by Robert Couse-Baker CC BY 2.0

Reese Witherspoon at 83rd Academy Awards Red Carpet IMG_1306 by Red Carpet Report on Mingle Media TV CC BY-SA 2.0

Kim Kardashian-West, Parramatta Westfield Sydney by Eva Rinaldi CC BY-SA 2.0

Magazine and Tabloid covers created by Anithra Ratnayake Via Canva

Music Used:

SimplySound- Genefikk (Happy Silly Classic Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental 2014) by YourRapBeatsTV CC BY 3.0

Element Beatz- Sky (Epic Sad Thoughtful Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental) by YourRapBeatsTV CC BY 3.0

Surveillance in Everyday Life

Surveillance, the idea of it seems scary but the reality is that it has been pretty normalised in today’s society. Whether it be by CCTV in our homes, workplaces, the streets or even while we are casually surfing the web the truth is we are constantly being watched. What I find  interesting is how we associate the term ‘stalker’ so casually with social media. I’m sure every single one of us has sat and ‘stalked’ someone on Facebook or another social media site, whatever the reasoning behind it might be.

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                                                                Social Media by Magicatwork CC BY 2.0

Whenever I talk to my friends from back home the question ‘so what have you been up to lately’ seems redundant because we already know, whether it be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat we are constantly documenting our lives for others to see. When we in turn spend time going through, commenting and liking each others actions on various social media platforms, we begin in a kind of a way, surveilling each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but maybe it gives a little insight into why we have become more or less indifferent to the excessive amount of surveillance that is conducted on us today- particularly on social media.

Since starting a unit on surveillance as part of my media and communications degree at university, I have been thinking a lot more about this issue. Naturally I began starting to discuss some of these issues with my friends and family.

The tweet above pretty much summarises a chat I recently had with my mum about webcam hacking, although initially her response was one of absolute outrage,what I found was that even though she was unnerved by the idea that someone could be watching her through her webcam or tracking her internet search history, it was never going to make her abandon the internet completely.

Like the example above, every other conversation I have had with my circle of friends and family have gone the same. Yes, they were a bit uneasy when confronted with the idea that they are being tracked continuously online. At the same time however, their end response, most often was one of acceptance. the phrase ‘well I guess that’s the world we live in’ was one I heard too many times.

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                                                       Privacy by Owen Moore CC BY 2.0

That is the truth isn’t it? Privacy has become a privilege more than a right in today’s society, and as a result of this, surveillance has become a part of our everyday lives. We watch each other on social media, and we sometimes even keep track of ourselves through things like fitness and nutrition apps.

 

When you sit and think about how much surveillance we conduct on ourselves and our friends and family members, you begin to understand why companies are able to get away with all the tracking they do. The truth is, “most social media users are less concerned with governments or corporations watching their online activities” (Marwick, 2012). We are too busy networking and being entertained online to stop and think that there maybe someone tracking our activity.

Of course, I’m also not saying that we should sit back and let big companies and Governments invade our privacy- ignorance is never a good thing. The thing is, even in the midst of all the surveillance that is going on, there are also people and organisations that are bringing these issues to light. As the tweet embedded above shows, people are being told about the changing privacy policies of the apps they use.  This is an amazing thing, because at the very least people are being made aware of what is going on and as a result might be a little bit more savvy about how they conduct themselves online and in their day-to-day lives.

At the end of the day, there is no escape. Even if you decide that you want no part of it and delete yourself completely from the internet to go and live under a rock in some remote area- who’s to say a drone flying up in the sky won’t catch some footage of you while you’re sleeping?

 

 

 

References

Marwick, A. E, 2012, The public domain: Social surveillance in everyday life.Surveillance & Society, 9(4), 378-393. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.deakin.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/1314689547?accountid=10445

 

 

 

 

CCTV In the Home

It’s true isn’t it? We live in a world where we are under constant surveillance, as a result we tend to become so fixated on this being an invasion of privacy, that we manage to forget that surveillance, specifically in the form of CCTV is quite beneficial- most often when it comes to preventing crime.

A couple of years ago, my house back in Sri Lanka had a break in attempt. My big strong guard dog, who normally would have scared off the intruders had decided to take a day off and was off sunbathing in our garden. Luckily, this incredibly smart thief decided to rob the house in broad daylight and my mother managed to spot him while he was climbing up through the balcony and scare him off.

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                                                              Picture taken by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

My house does have a security guard  stationed at the front day and night. However, they are human as well and as a result are not able to stay awake or keep careful watch the entire time. So what was our answer to ensure that we felt safe in our home? CCTV.

The use of CCTV in homes is quite common in today’s society. Crime rates are increasing, and as a result of this people are “increasingly finding themselves more responsible for their personal safety and well-being” (Rapoport, 2012).

With advancements in technology these days, you are able to monitor your CCTV footage on your phone or on your TV. Of course, my parents have no idea how to connect to it in the first place, but I log in from time to time and I think for them, even though they aren’t quite sure how to work it, the idea that the option is available to them becomes a comfort in its own right.

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Picture taken by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

Dealing with technology however is never without its problems. As you can see from the image on the right, one of the cameras in my house has lost signal. This is because we recently discovered that someone had actually damaged the camera while attempting it to turn it away from them. Clearly, this time the thieves that were attempting to rob our house were a bit smarter than the last.

This type of incident I guess could prompt the question of how effective surveillance cameras are if they are actually visible to people. In one way they may prevent them from doing wrong, at the same time thieves could simply find a way around it and continue the criminal act.

Another downside to home surveillance that is quite scary, is that you are vulnerable to hackers, especially if you have installed cameras inside the home itself. The article that I tweeted out above, tells quite a scary tale about how hackers infiltrated CCTV cameras that were installed in someone’s home.

At the end of the day, the use of CCTV cameras at home can be argued as both positive and negative. Although, It can’t be said for sure if it actually does deter from anti social and criminal behaviours, one thing is certain, if your home is broken into- the surveillance footage that you capture will definitely prove invaluable in providing evidence to police so that they actually end up identifying the offenders. CCTV might not be the most effective in preventing crime, but there’s no arguing that it makes us feel safe and secure- and who doesn’t want that when they’re at home?

 

 

References

Rapoport, M,  2012, ‘The Home Under Surveillance: A Tripartite Assemblage’, Surveillance & Society, vol. 10, no. 3/4, p. 320

Netflix & Spy?

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

Procrastination. All of us have been subjected to this monster at some time or another. I myself am an expert procrastinator. What is my go-to activity when I have so much to do and my brain just won’t allow me to be productive? Netflix.

Millions of people log into Netflix everyday and spend hours binge watching an ever-expanding selection of movies, TV shows and documentaries covering a range of genres. There really is something available for everyone.

Netflix knows how to keep you hooked, the minute you finish watching 7 seasons of a TV show, you are immediately shown something else to watch suggesting that this is something that “you might also enjoy”, how did they know I would enjoy that?!

An article that I came across recently on my twitter feed, got me thinking about how Netflix uses data-driven marketing to learn more about their users in order to keep developing more focused recommendations, so that they can ensure that their customers keep coming back for more. This got me thinking about just how much of my usage on the site is being tracked and how I felt about it.

“Netflix has two basic methods of determining users’ preferences: by asking what they prefer or by inferring what they prefer from (patterns in) discrete interactions within the system” (Lawrence, 2015, p. 359). 

 

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                                                                        Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

The first of these two methods is quite standard, while the latter relies on specific algorithms that focus more on the information that its users reveal, rather than state when it comes to their preferences.

In other words, the company has programs in place that track your recently played and most viewed genres on the website to then generate media that you might be interested in watching.

One of the main reasons that the Company tracks their users in this way is to ensure customer satisfaction. Below is a short video that I created and tweeted out explaining this in more detail.

Although Netflix keeps their algorithms hidden from the public these days, this wasn’t always the case. In 2006, Netflix announced a competition that gave the opportunity for an “individual or team to develop a recommendation system capable of predicting movie ratings with at least 10% greater accuracy than Cinematch, the company’s existing system” (Hallinan & Striphas, 2016, p.118). This competition was called the ‘Netflix Prize’ and offered the winners $1 million in prize money.

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, August 2016

The competition went on for three years (yes, that long) and although the company did not end up using the winners algorithm, according to Hallinan and Striphas (2016), the company’s quest to find new and more extensive ways to connect its users with movies that they love interfered with cultural foundations, and in doing so they managed to make a connection between algorithms and art.

Most companies and websites use algorithms and data mining techniques in order to keep track of their users and help better our experiences online. Social Media sites such as Facebook are well versed in such methods. Yes, the idea of this can seem quite scary and it can even be argued as an invasion of privacy. However, the fact that Netflix has adopted these methods for me, personally, doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. How else would I decide what TV show to watch next?

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References

  • Gomez-Uribe, C, & Hunt, N 2015, ‘The Netflix recommender system: Algorithms, business value, and innovation’, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, vol. 6, no. 4. Available from: 10.1145/2843948. [24 August 2016].

 

  • Hallinan, B, Striphas, T, 2016, ‘Recommended for you: The Netflix Prize and the production of algorithmic culture’, New Media & Society 2016, Vol. 18, no.1, Sage Publications ltd., p. 118-119, DOI: 10.1177/1461444814538646

 

 

  • Lawrence,E, 2015, ‘Everything is a Recommendation: Netflix, Altgenres and the Construction of Taste’, Knowledge Organisation, Vol. 42, no. 5, p.359, Applied Science & Technology Source, EBSCOhost, viewed August 24 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Big Brother Goes for Gold! (Surveillance and Elite Athletes)

Admittedly, I am not much of a sports fan. Whenever there’s a sporting event on TV you will always find me in the back of the room watching the clock and hoping that the time will soon come to change the channel. When it comes to swimming however, my thoughts differ. I will spend hours in front of the TV watching every single race.

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Rio 2016 by Ian Burt CC BY 2.0

The Olympics as a result is no exception. Last week was pretty much a blur for me, I spent every morning from 11.03 am glued to my TV screen watching every swimming event.I celebrated with the victors and felt the pain of the defeated. Basically, I was hooked. I think its safe to say however, that I was not alone in this, all over the world people were tuned in whether to cheer on their country or watch the legendary Michael Phelps swim in his last Olympics.

When it comes to sports and its elite athletes, the term surveillance doesn’t often come to mind. When you really think about it though, surveillance is quite prominent in sport. The most obvious way of course, is through the fandom.

“Sports organizations now benefit from labour provided by fans who post information on the internet and their public interactions with, and observances of, professional athletes”(Sanderson, 2009, p. 241).

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Phelps and Lochte by Incase CC BY 2.0

Sports fans spend time documenting and capturing images of athletes and sporting events, the growth of the Internet and Social Media now means that fans can easily share these thoughts and images. What fans don’t realise is that they are essentially acting as sports journalists and as a result publications are able to capitalise on this for minimum cost.

Although this form of surveillance can be seen as an invasion of privacy, it can still be considered relatively harmless when comparing it with other forms of surveillance that elite athletes come face to face with. While watching the swimming I noticed during the post race interviews (yes, I watch those too) that a common statement by athletes was “I’ll go back and watch my race to see where I can improve”. Advancements in technology today means that practice sessions and even races are recorded for athletes and coaches to go back and study over and over again.

An article that was published on the conversation argues that even though this type of surveillance is used to help improve the athletes technique, it can also end up being quite harmful to the athlete. Although this article uses the example of team sports, I believe the same can be argued for individual sports as well. This type of constant surveillance and data management has such a big focus on performance that it can create a sort of machine mentality, essentially making athletes seem like superheroes as opposed to what they really are, human.

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Gold Medal Olympic Boxer by Paul Hudson CC BY 2.0

Surveillance to this extent creates an added pressure for the athlete where every little mistake that they make can be picked up on and scrutinised by their coaches. Athletes and their coaches rely heavily on this type of data capture and believe that it really does improve their race performance. The question the article poses however, is how long this mentality will last.

Elite Athletes might as well be celebrities in todays society, and most of them are. As a result of this it can be argued that invasion of privacy is just part of the job description. The more successful they become, the more fans they accumulate and their public interest rating sky rockets.

Continuing advancements in technology however, allows for increased surveillance in athletes day-to-day lives and the question that has to be asked is if whether this is going to harm them or help them in the long run? For me, personally, I think this can be argued either way- it can be both a blessing and a curse.

 

 

 

References:

  • Sanderson, Jimmy, 2009, ‘Professional Athletes’ Shrinking Privacy Boundaries: Fans, Information and Communication Technologies, and Athlete Monitoring’, International Journal of Sport Communication, vol.2, no.2, Arizona State University, USA, p. 241, retrieved 17th August 2016, Communication and Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost.

 

Shopping For Facebook- How Target Ads Benefit Businesses.

Last week during my daily (ok, hourly) Facebook scroll there was an ad on my news feed that caught my eye. What I found interesting was how it ended up on my news feed in the first place. I hadn’t visited the site before, nor had I searched for the product on any other site, yet it was something that I never knew I wanted, I just had to buy it.

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                          Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

In a previous blog post I said that social media sites sometimes know us even better than we know ourselves. The idea of this can be quite unnerving,is that how they knew I was planning on travelling to the Maldives in the summer and therefore needed beach accessories?

The ads that appear on your Facebook feed are there for a reason, they are targeted directly at you and the type of person that they believe you are.

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Illustrated by Anithra Ratnayake, September 2016

 

Traditionally, advertising was seen as a media message that the audience was expected to consume. Through the process of social media advertising however, individuals are now able to “become part of creating, developing and distributing advertising content” (Kim, et. al, 2015, p. 323). When we are shown advertisements that we are genuinely interested in seeing, we are more likely to interact and share that content with our friends.

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                                                                                                                              Infograph created by Anithra Ratnayake via Canva, September 2016

 

Social media sites are invaluable to businesses when it comes to advertising. The infograph on the right highlights the top three reasons why companies are using Facebook for advertising.

All three of these reasons come together because of target advertising. This means that now companies can ensure that they are reaching their most relevant demographics. By doing this, it also ensures that no funds are wasted as “the aim of sophisticated targeting through advertising is not to waste a single eyeball” (Curran, et.al, 2011, p. 29).

The rise of target advertising on social media comes as no surprise. One of the main reasons people log on to social media is to interact with friends and content that they are interested in. Therefore when it comes to advertising on social media, companies need to make sure that they are visible on profiles that share common interests with their products. People don’t want annoyance and interruption while browsing through their news feed, target marketing guarantees that ads reach their most relevant audiences.

Facebook offers a range of campaigns for businesses to choose from. Like Ads and their ‘clicks to website’ features are just two of the many that are on offer. My friend recently launched an active wear line and she used both these features to generate more traffic on her website and her Facebook page. The interview below touches on some of her experiences using the site and highlights some of the benefits this type of advertising can have on small businesses.

There is no question that advertising on social media is one of the most efficient methods a business can adopt to ensure their most relevant demographic is reached.

When it comes to the privacy concerns that arise from this, what we most often fail to see is that we too benefit from this method of advertising, as the poll results above indicate, the ads we see on Facebook are now ones that we most often want to see, and that doesn’t seem too bad does it?

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References

Curran, K, Graham, S, & Temple, C 2011, ‘Advertising on Facebook’, International Journal of E-Business Development, vol.1, no.1, p.29

Kim, S, Lee, J, & Yoon, D 2015, ‘Norms in Social Media: The Application of Theory of Reasoned Action and Personal Norms in Predicting Interactions With Facebook Page Like Ads’, Communication Research Reports, vol. 32, no. 4, p. 323. Available from: 10.1080/08824096.2015.1089851. [6 September 2016].

 

Music in podcast

Good Morning by LAKEY INSPIRED CC BY 3.0

Social Media Surveillance- How Concerned should we be?

Along with the rest of the world I have become a victim of the Pokemon Go phenomenon- I find myself spending endless hours searching for Pokemon everywhere that I go- I just have to catch ’em all!

Recently though I have been seeing a lot of articles that are questioning the privacy settings of the game- claiming that its makers will have access to private information which among others includes access to our emails. Of course, since this has come to light the company has made statements claiming that they are doing their best to rectify the matter. All this chatter has gotten me wondering about all the other games and social media that we use constantly throughout the day and if we are unknowingly (or sometimes even knowingly) giving people access to information about ourselves.

Most games or even productivity apps for that matter all require you to sign up using either an email address or a social media account such as Facebook or Twitter. I myself am one of those lazy people who opt to use my Facebook account to sign up most of the time so that I don’t have to spend those extra seconds typing in my email address and password in order to set everything up. The disclaimer at the bottom stating that “this app does not post to Facebook without your permission” tends to give me some sense of security.

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Self Snitch by Poster Boy CC BY 2.0

My privacy settings on Facebook are set at its highest to the extent that only around 30 of my 800 friends have full access to my entire profile. In this day and age however, I don’t think that should give anyone any sense of security- information is almost too easy to find these days- If there is a will there is a way, right?

Social media knows a lot about us. Sometimes even more than we know about ourselves. I know that the idea of this may seem scary- at the same time however, what we don’t realise is that we do have some control through things like privacy setting. As social media users, it can be said that control is in our hands and as a result we are able to “choose whom to accept or deny as friends” (Fuchs et al, 2013. p.91). This gives us the opportunity to be strategic in what we post and what messages that it send out to the world.

 

Tweet embedded from my twitter profile on the 27th of July 2016

 

This article that I tweeted out however, concerns me somewhat. I understand that safety and security will be some of the reasons that Facebook would use to justify their ability to read your Facebook messages- but the very thought that they can do it is somewhat unsettling isn’t it? The article does say that Facebook is now offering us the option of turning on encryption so that they won’t be able to access messages, so at least now we can feel that our privacy is somewhat protected.

The fact of the matter is that all social media sites use one method of surveillance or another. Although this can seem like an invasion on privacy (and justifiably so), It is technically what we signed up for. As for how concerned about this we should be about this- honestly, I’m not so sure myself- but I am looking forward to researching this topic more to find out!

 

 

 

References

  • Fuchs, C, Boersma, K, Albrechtslund, A, Sandoval, M, 2013,  “The Challenges of Web 2.0 and Social Media”, in Trottier, D, Lyon, D, “Key Features of Social Media Surveillance”, Taylor and Francis, p. 91