Privacy and Credibility Issues on Social Media


In the digital age, we get the latest news and communicate with each other easily through social networking sites. However, there are some privacy and credibility issues. I want to briefly share some tips regarding the protection of privacy when using social media networking sites. And then use the fake news of ‘White House Explosions, Barack Obama Injured’ on Twitter to analyse the credibility of social media source.

crazy-dude-cartoon   Image source 

For privacy protection, every online user should make sure the computer has security measures before logging into the social media sites (Chiron). I believe it is better not to post too much personal information such as the date of birth, financial information, street address and mobile number. Furthermore, Jayson also notes that no matter for business or personal use, confidential and sensitive pictures must not be posted. When adding friends or approving followers’ requests, we should try to be selective. It is advisable to restrict the right of strangers to post information on our profile and limit them to view the entire profile.

Protect-Your-Privacy-on-Social-Media Image Source

(the image shows protect your privacy)

The following video explains the Dos and Don`ts when using social network to protect your privacy online.

In regards to the credibility issue on social media, a survey conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institutes found that only 42 percent of online users think that information from social media is credible (Taylor &Francis). On the contrary, 65 percent of people believe that the content from the traditional media have a high level of credibility. In my opinion, information from social media is not always trustworthy. The false news exerts a profound negative influence on other industries, such as retail industry and financial industry.

Take the rumor of ‘Explosions at White House’ on Twitter for example, the AP (Associated Press) Twitter account sent a fake tweet on 23 April 2013 (Blake). This false tweet was about the two explosions in the White House and President Barack Obama being injured. The AP Twitter account later confirmed that their account had been stolen by hackers. Subsequently, it caused widespread panic in the US financial market (Domm).

From the two images below, it can be seen that a sudden decrease in the stock market occurred shortly after Twitter released this fake news. The stock market fell over 150 points within one minute. It might become the fastest drop point in the stock market history.

AP-Twitter-White-House-explosions   Image Source

DJ30-Industrials-White-House-Explosion  Image Source

The following video demonstrates how fast the ‘White House Explosions, Barack Obama Injured’ false tweet led to the US financial community’ s panic.


From the video, we can see that 1,903,328 followers have followed this tweet and the stock market has lost more than $136 million in value on that day.

Jewell claims that Twitter has over 140 million active users and approximately 340 million tweets per day. However, it is significant to keep in mind that fast does not mean credible and accurate.

twitter-marketing-campaign     twitter-free-hq-buttons-icons-psd-photoshop-vector-illustrator-bird-003  Image Source 

As social media has become an important tool for journalists to find and share information with large audience, journalists are encouraged to have a social media account. How to identify credible sources in social media networking sites is challenging us. One method is to ask questions, which would help people to determine whether the information is credible. For instance–“does this news seem unbelievable? Does it make sense to me or other readers? Does it contradict with what I have known to be true before?” (Westerman et al.)

In addition, I believe that for some business-oriented social networks like LinkedIn, the entrepreneurs have to think about how to make their brand more credible. If they can deal with some potential problems of their customers, they could establish a long term trust between their brand and their customers (Patterson). The Internet Advertising Bureau  also indicates that 79 percent of customers would buy more products if the brand is credible on social media.

The social networking sites have become powerful communication tools. Nevertheless, it also associates with the privacy and credibility issues. To deal with these problems, both large audiences and journalists should get a sound understanding of privacy and credibility problems and take advantage of some effective strategies. The strategies include ensuring security software before signing into the social media sites and being selective when adding friends.







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