“Messages and calls are end-to-end encrypted. No one outside of this chat, not even WhatsApp, can read or listen to them.”

But is it? The fortitude of privacy and security has been nothing but a far-fetched dream; with the constantly evolving privacy and security protocols being the only change. The consumer is always in a state of perplexity; also serving as an ignoramus spectator processing these policy changes day-by-day.

THE CONTROVERSY AT HAND

 How safe is social media today?

I often ponder when people bombard their social media with all sorts of personal and private “content”. The issue at hand has once again been exacerbated with the privacy policy changes introduced by WhatsApp; the most prominent social network there is. WhatsApp has left the entire viewer audience as nothing but a close-knit community with its instant messaging and communication technology. As a result of the most efficient UI ever, which renders WhatsApp is the most approachable online communication channel connecting people spread over a multitude of dimensions. Reportedly, the reforms in the new policy have mandated all its users to establish their consent over-sharing of their online data with the parent company of WhatsApp, namely, Facebook. Resultantly, the users of the social communication channel vigilantly revolted against the unwelcoming move; switching to alternative platforms and abandoning the media platform in abundant numbers. 

CLEARING THE AIR

     

However, WhatsApp is relentlessly trying to blow away the skepticism towards it. As a response to the severe backlash, WhatsApp has been coerced into issuing a chain of clarifications; clarifying that impersonal communications will not be affected by the policy change. In any way, it aspires to break free from the wrong notions by the users. The tech-giant, through the clarification notice, has stated that the end-to-end encryption would continue to stay intact; aiming to preserve the privacy of all its users. It also stated that neither the private chats nor the voice chats were accessible to either WhatsApp or Facebook. This row of clarifications comes off as a respite to its gigantic user base.

However, the newly introduced policy changes have cast severe aspersions on the security and privacy of data being maintained by the various communication channels used online. The privacy policy changes by WhatsApp have ignited fear amongst people about the lack of transparency of various social media channels. 

SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRIVACY: IS IT A FAD?

The controversy has indicated towards the transgression of the veil of privacy available to the audience, this veil of security which has allowed the audience to go online into the digital world without any inhibitions and evolve themselves into a globalised world as per the emerging scenario. Social media has been slowly becoming an irreplaceable part of our routine lives. Personal and professional blogs, daily tweets, social media identities, the interactive channels have allowed every individual to overcome all representative barriers imposed by the society and has allowed the dissemination of opinions and a louder voice that can be raised in front of the entire world, without any geographical or social barriers. It has been emerging as the rudimentary need for a business to function, for an individual to network and for the community to vivify. Albeit the silver lining, it provides, how much of it is actually glorious? 

With the overdependency on social media as a primary channel of interaction between people; it becomes a rather indisputable fact that people are allowing it as a gateway to their personal information; thus, the digitally stored information is becoming more and more transparent and transferable to all. Furthermore, This has greatly diminished the lines of distinction between privacy and publicity.

The increasing correspondence between the private and public lives has a far and grave consequential impacts on the personal privacy, reputation, and representation of people in society. Often, the legally embedded regulations surrounding digital media are contravened across the global world.

The Problem with Overdependence on Social Media

With the multiplicity of crimes and violation of laws, it has become a troublesome objective for the lawmakers to be able to retain the safety protocols of the digital world and safeguard their jurisprudence in the newly evolving technological scenario which has shown unparalleled resilience towards Social media channels.

Even the corporate workplace has felt the detrimental impacts of social media. With the introduction of Social media as a part of the current vogue, the workplace has become more of a public hub, with private information being often shared into the digitized world. The businesses and corporates have been depending on the applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to exploit them as a Marketing channel for their ventures, however, the businesses fail to understand the complicated norms and privacy concerns which do not spare them of legal, economic, social and ethical consequences. 

With globalization and digitalization, the crime rates also show an upward trend; with an augmented number of cases of eve-teasing, bullying, emotional and sexual harassment, abuse, intoxication, and physical violence to name a few. The influence of social media on the newer generations is mindboggling; the Millenials heavily rely on social media visuals for any rudimentary understanding. The exaggerated depiction of basic components on social media; the fantasized story-lines, glorious wealth, and gumption reflected through these channels dwell deeper into the minds of a child and contribute towards forming a lopsided understanding and rationality.

The effectiveness of Social media and the protection of one’s privacy still continues to be more of a divisive issue; with contradictory debates issuing from all nooks and corners of the world. The recent controversy again brings forth to light that Social Media has never failed to prove itself as mayhem!