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Social Media and You: Social Technology Issues United States

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As of June 2012, "There is no federal law explicitly preventing potential employers from asking for Facebook passwords. Employers may even be able to ask for passwords of current employees. Some say that employers ask for passwords simply because they can. With gloomy unemployment rates, job applicants and employees alike give employers wide latitude to ask for things because people simply need the job" (Raymond Law Group LLC, 2012).

There are some states though that are implementing rules, "One state is banning the practice, and at least 10 other states have bills that have been introduced. A few courts have ruled that such requests violate the federal Stored Communications Act, but the US Supreme Court has not addressed this issue. This legal uncertainty leaves many workers on shaky legal ground" (Bennett-Smith, 2012).

Consider the situation of Robert Collins in the article "Problem: Job interviewer asks for Facebook password. Do you give it?"

Things to know:
1. Employers research you through a friend of a friend.
2. Employers use deep Web searches.

Things to do:
1. Try looking yourself up every once in a while (,
2. Don't Trust Privacy Settings
3. Avoid negativity
4. Internet conversations are (somewhat) indelible (not able to be removed)
5. Be careful what you share
6. It is OK to unfriend (Barrett-Poindexter, 2012)


About 7.5 million active Facebook users are lying about their age - they're younger than 13. And among those preteens, more than 5 million are under 10, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. (Li, 2011) Read more:

Remember, 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online compared to face-to-face, more than in the U.K. (36%) and Germany (35%), according to a study by Badoo. Aside from feelings of loneliness, the survey revealed that people could embellish the truth when sharing online, perhaps to appear more interesting to others, or to "control" their online persona. 25% of American respondents admit they have exaggerated or lied about who they've met or what they've done on their social networks, with a staggering 39% having shared bad news, such as a death or divorce (Thompson, 2012).

There are many varieties of misrepresentation. As Robert Siciliano points out: “Social fakes” are invented profiles on social media (often referred to as profile misrepresentation), which can be used to harass or mock victims anonymously. But the more lucrative fake profile is one that imitates a legitimate business, damaging that business’s online reputation (2011).


The most common crime complaints in the U.S. for 2010:

  1. Non-delivery payment/merchandise 14.4%
  2. FBI-related scams 13.2%
  3. Identity theft 9.8%
  4. Computer crimes 9.1%
  5. Miscellaneous fraud 8.6%
  6. Advance fee fraud 7.6%
  7. Spam 6.9%
  8. Auction fraud 5.9%
  9. Credit card fraud 5.3%
  10. Overpayment fraud 5.3%   (Internet Crime Complaint Center, 2010)


At what point is there a voilation of privacy in social technology/media? Consider the case of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers.

A Rutgers University freshman posted a goodbye message on his Facebook page before jumping to his death after his roommate secretly filmed him during an intimate encounter in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet. Not only are the students who recorded and posted the video in legal battles now, but so is the institution for not protecting the rights and privacy of the student.

 In a nutshell here what occurred is that Two students, Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, have been were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy after allegedly placing a camera in Clementi's room and livestreaming the recording online on Sept. 19, 2010, according to a written statement by New Jersey's Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan. Under New Jersey's invasion-of-privacy statutes, it is a fourth degree crime to collect or view images depicting nudity or sexual contact involving another individual without that person's consent, and it is a third degree crime to transmit or distribute such images. The penalty for conviction of a third degree offense can include a prison term of up to five years (Friedman, 2010). Equally the institution is struggling with a definition of what is harassment and what control or monitoring educational institutions should have over student conduct online (Stripling, 2011).

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Most video recordings are legal with or without consent. There are very few laws that prohibit video recording of any kind, but there are laws in some areas dealing with areas of expected privacy.

Unlike with video, most audio recordings without consent of one or all parties are illegal. This, in part, is because audio recording has been around for far longer and has been historically more widely used and disbursed. There are two types of defined recording situations for audio recording. They are usually referred to as one-party consent and two-party consent.

In October of 2008, Simon Glik used his cell phone to make a video recording of what he perceived as an overly forceful police arrest. In his case, in Massachusetts, there is a two party consent rule for secret audio recording which means all persons speaking must consent fo the content to be released. When Glik was confronted by a police officer he acknowledged that he was recording the event. The officer responded by arresting Glik. The case remains in the courts as of the writing of this report on June 2011 (Philips, 2011).

Remember that many other states only have one party consent rulings that allow any party to a conversation to secretly record it, so you may want to consider this case not only in the context of Massachusetts but how it might differ if it occured in a one party consent state like New York. As Silverglate and Tierney of the Boston Phoenix note, "Glik, a 31-year-old lawyer, suspected that the cops who arrested him wanted more to protect themselves from a possible misconduct complaint than to enforce the state’s privacy laws" (2011). Additionally, in Gilk's case the recording device was not hidden.


"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is never called cyberbullying. (Stop Cyber Bullying, 2011)

Sample case: Consider the case that  involved 13-year-old Megan Meier. An eighth-grader in suburban St Louis, Meier hanged herself with a belt in her bedroom closet two years ago after she was dumped by who she believed was a 16-year-old boy she met on MySpace. But the boy, Josh Evans, didn't exist. "Folks, that's Josh Evans right there," US Attorney Thomas O'Brien told jurors, pointing to the defendant, 49-year-old Lori Drew, moments before the jury was given the case (Glover, 2008).   Although originally Drew was found guilty, a federal judge overturned the guilty verdicts in 2009, issuing a directed acquittal on three misdemeanor charges (Zetter, 2009).

There are not consistent standards across states.  See State Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment and Cyberbullying Laws

Minnesota May, 2011: During our six-month investigation, Minnesota Public Radio news found lax state oversight on bullying — no one checks whether districts and charter schools actually have the required bullying policies in place.  Three-quarters of districts and charters use a model policy that the Minnesota School Boards Association drafted. That model is six-pages long; other districts have as little as one paragraph. Nearly a third of the state's school districts and charter schools' policies don't appear to define or refer to electronic bullying in their bullying policies. That would appear to be a violation of state law, which states that bullying policies, "shall address intimidation and bullying in all forms, including, but not limited to, electronic forms and forms involving Internet use." (Weber, 2011)

Utah May, 2011: Utah's recently enacted Senate Bill 304, a law that prohibits "cyber-bullying" has yet be be tested. It will take effect next school year. The bill expanded the definition of bullying to include online intimidation and threats. (Metcalf, 2011)


"Sexting" is the 21st century version of "you show me yours, I’ll show you mine." The number of American teens who send sexually explicit photographs to friends by cellphone, smartphone or computer is somewhere between 4 percent (according to the Pew Research Center) and 19 percent (according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy). (Emerson, 2011)

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