Social media is a current phenomenon that is largely influencing the lives of people. In light of the widespread embracement of social media, concerns over user’s privacy have kept increasing. The proposed study will assess social media usage, and the invasion of privacy of users. The context of the study is Saudi Arabia because the Internet use is high in the country. The research defines social media in a relatively narrow way to include platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It is apparent from the paper that initial social media was intended for use of young adults for professional reasons. However, soon after its use, the idea of opening the platform to the public was born. Ever since its opening to the public, the use of the media spread sporadically across all corners of the world. With an increase of the usage of the sites, concerns about privacy emerged.
The current paper conceptualizes invasions of privacy as falling into two main classes namely the strict and informal classes. Strict invasions of privacy involve the breach of protecting information that is posted on social media companies while informal invasions entail violations that occur because of social media users’ ignorance on the level of vulnerability of their private information. Three main types of privacy invasion (hacking, problem of ignorance, and marketing) and implications for social media users in Saudi Arabia are presented. Given that research on the topic remains limited, carrying a study of this nature would add value relating to Saudi Arabia’s social media and privacy issues.
To understand social media use and privacy issues, the proposed study seeks to employ the purposive sampling approach to collect data from forty users. After collecting data, qualitative and quantitative analytical methods will be applied to develop an understanding on the topic.
The scholarship and business communities continue to pay attention to the enormous potential that the use of social media accords the society. Despite the acceptance that the media plays an instrumental role in enhancing the prospects of the business community, susceptibilities and vulnerabilities to users have also emerged as issues deserving equal attention. One of the main concerns that emerge when using social media is the threat of invasion of privacy of the users. Although efforts have been put in place, more acts must be exerted to ensure safety and confidentiality among those who use the platforms. Based on the above account, conducting a study to assess the state of social media use and privacy invasion in Saudi Arabia would add value to existing knowledge.
Talk about social media elicits varied reactions. In 2011, the Arab Spring uprisings underscore how social media has been employed as a tool to achieve political ends. While chronicling the momentous events in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, unrest also arose in other countries such as Syria, Yemen and Jordan. According to Byman and Wise (2002), social media was not the cause of the uprising. On the contrary, the media was only an avenue used to voice underlying problems within the societies.
Following the increase in the extent to which social media is used, governments and local authorities have devised various measures to address the dangers that result from its usage (Media Me 2010). For instance, in the United Arab Emirates, legal risks regarding social media are outlined. Thus, citizens need awareness about the law that applies to contents shared with the public.
The law on social media regulates the use of photographs. When posting pictures of other persons online, caution must be exercised. The Federal Law No. 5 of 2012, which is also known as the Cyber Crimes Law, guides the conduct of social media users who intend to share photographs (Murphy & Zweiri 2011). Under the above law, it is an offense to use any approach to invade individuals’ privacy by posting/displaying their photos. Moreover, the Penal Code in the UAE classifies transmitting another person’s photograph without his/her approval. The provision extends to still images. It is also noted that under the Copyright Law that for one to distribute a photograph, he/she must secure the owner’s approval.
From the above discussions, the role of the laws enacted is securing the privacy and confidentiality of individuals who might be victims of fraudsters or ill-motivated people. Thus, the UAE recognizes and takes steps to protect the sanctity of private life. It is further noted that disclosing secrets that relate to other peoples’ life without consent is punishable by the law (Murphy & Zweiri 2011). Hence, violators of the law are liable to prosecution. It is also illegal to share information about an employer. This explains why a number of scandals that are read in the press relate to unauthorized disclosure of a private life details, or revelation of sensitive business information.
One of the issues considered in the use of social media is security. Fawcett (2009) indicated that there is an increasing awareness that using the social media poses integrity concerns for users. Among the concerns is that users are likely to encounter system attacks such as malware or virus intrusion. In order to protect users, the adoption of appropriate policies is necessary. In cases of corporate application, informing employees about the risks involved is required in order to create awareness about the dangers of displaying information to the public. Besides, organizations using social media or any IT platforms must enter agreements with vendors to enhance systems security.
As pointed out already, the issue of privacy is critical in the process of using social media. Many organizations are now using social sites such as Twitter or Facebook to enhance interactions with their customers or clients. According to Abdel-Azim (2010), instances have been reported when inappropriate context has been uploaded. In light of this, monitoring of social networking sites is mandatory. In cases where corporate entities reveal personal information of clients can seek recourse from the justice system.
Theft is one of the issues that users of social media have to handle. As Abdel-Azim (2010) found, in the UAE, the use of fake Facebook profiles is a concern. Using fake accounts is dangerous when corporate are involved because companies can share information to wrong people believing that they are part of the human resources team. The same case applies to private persons since fraudsters can use disguised accounts to dupe others.
In addressing the issue of the use of social media and privacy concerns in Saudi Arabia, the proposed study will interrogate the following questions:
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The study considers the state of social media privacy and solutions to address existing concerns. Concepts that relate to social media use are presented to link a number of variables on social media use. They include hacking, problem of ignorance, and marketing.
The above diagram demonstrates that marketing, ignorance and hacking are predictors of privacy invasion among social media users.
The development of a research design is central in the process of conducting any academic research. In assessing the levels of awareness on social media usage as it relates to privacy, the proposed study intends to employ a cross-sectional approach. Such a design is not based on time dimensions, depends on the prevailing state of affairs, rather than on changes after interventions, and the selection of study respondents is based on existing variations across the units of observation (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 2006). In practice, cross-sectional designs focus on differences in phenomena or subjects as opposed to change itself. As a result, researchers need to employ a passive assessment of the findings when making inferences.
According to Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (2006), cross-section studies provide a view on an issue and the features related to it at a certain time. As opposed to an experimental design which is based on researchers’ active interventions, cross-sectional designs concentrate on drawing inferences based on existing differences contrasts the longitudinal design that involves data collection of over extended periods. For this reason, it is observed that the cross-sectional design is used to determine relationships in variables at a specific time. Subjects section in such a design take a purposive sampling approach rather than employing a random sampling approach. It is also noted that cross-section designs are not limited to geographical locations. Therefore, data collection can be extended beyond a single geographical location. Thus, the idea that such designs are cheaper and consume less time makes them preferable.
In spite of the many benefits associated with employing of a cross-sectional design, difficulties in finding people, subjects, or phenomena that are similar apart from in a specific variable remain (Kelle 2006). Results from studies that use the approach are also time bound, hence, do not provide information about historical trends or the sequence of events. The implication is that studies based on the design cannot illustrate cause-effect associations.
Since the research focuses on social media use and privacy in Saudi Arabia, I intend to select social media users from an urban set-up from the country. The reason for selecting an urban community is based on the idea that such a location has individuals who are likely to use social media than others. Hence, they would provide valuable data relating to the proposed study.
As pointed from above, the proposed study intends to use the purposive sampling approach in selecting a sample. Purposive sampling is a technique that is non-probabilistic in nature. It permits a researcher to select respondents. When selecting the respondents, the decisions are based on a wide criterion that includes possession of special knowledge, the capacity as well as willingness to participate. Similarly, in the study design employed supports the view that researchers can decide which subjects to include in a study.
Before I select the sample, I intend to list the characteristics of social media users based on the motivation and purpose of indulgent. For instance, there are social media users for business, social media users for interaction, and others. The users of the social media will need to use the platforms for at least three years. The requirement is necessary to allow for the participation of users that have information and experience about the topic. I intend to select 20 respondents who use social media for leisure and 20 others who use it for business purposes.
In collecting data for the proposed study, I intend to use a questionnaire. Leung (2001) defined a questionnaire as a study instrument that bears statements or questions and prompts that are intended to collect information from respondents. The questionnaire will be divided into three parts namely part one will be based on demographics, section two on social media use and privacy while the third section will inquire about solutions to privacy threats. It is noted that questionnaires have advantages such as being less costly, requiring limited effort to develop besides having standardized answers (Leung 2001). Nonetheless, the standardization of answers might constrain some of the respondents whose options/answers fall outside the predetermined limits. The instrument is also limited as it requires respondents who are able to read and respond. Consequently, some respondents might be unable to take part in the study.
Ethics is about distinguishing between what is right and wrong (Shaw, Petchey, Chapman & Abbott 2009). Owing to the need to demonstrate morality or ethical conduct, codes are developed to guide how researchers carry their work. Thus, when conducting scientific studies, certain expectations have to be met. One of the primary reasons for adopting an ethical approach is to enhance the pursuit of research objectives. Ethics promotes the realization of research aims by ensuring truth, knowledge and error avoidance. In this regard, reference is made to the rejection of any form of fabrication, falsification or misrepresentation of research data (Shaw, Petchey, Chapman & Abbott 2009). It is also noted that research is a collaborative work that requires building rust, mutual respect, accountability, and fairness.
In the current research, data is sought from users of social media. To a certain extent, participating in the proposed research leads to disclosure of personal or sensitive information. In reference to the requirement that mutual respect and trust is exercised, the researcher is expected to abide by the promise to keep data confidential, and use it only for the purposes of the study. In addition, working with humans demands from a researcher to appreciate their decisions to take part in the study. Hence, the researcher should notify participants how they stand to gain or lose by taking part in the study. Giving the respondents some form of compensation is also advised to cover the time that they take in responding to the study queries.
In this subsection, the items to be used are presented against the expected costs.
It is acknowledged that developments in Information Technology have altered the way society conducts a number of its affairs. One of the latest advancements in technology is social media. The platform influences not only business entities, but also affects the entire society. Owing to its widespread reach, measures have to be put in place to guard against misuse or form of application that are detrimental to the society. As the case of UAE demonstrates, some countries have resorted to legal measures to control perceived adverse effects arising out of the use of the media. It is also apparent that the use of social media presents new challenges and opportunities. With specific reference to challenges, the issue of privacy is deemed a threat to individuals. In light of the finding, the study intends to explore the state of social media use, and privacy invasion in Saudi Arabia would add value to existing knowledge.