I made this on Canva.com.

I’ll start by saying that I have a lot of questions about this topic and very few, if any, answers. Like the 93% of people surveyed in the Pew Research Center article (Madden & Rainie, 2015), I find the ability to control who has access to information about me very important. While there are some steps we can all take to keep our information private online, I’m not sure the average person has the technology skills or know-how to truly protect him- or herself from sophisticated people, corporations, or governments who want that information. When going through the privacy material for this module (Stephens, 2017), my first thought was the recent news that the United States plans to start collecting social media data on all immigrants who want to enter the country (Nixon, 2017).

I’m not sure how this could impact libraries, but it seems worth considering. One thing that came to mind was Banned Books Week. I’ve enjoyed in the last week or so looking through all the social media posts from a library group I belong to on Facebook. Many people posted their creative displays and discussed books that were challenged in their libraries. In honor of Banned Books Week, I can easily see a library posting a question on its social media account asking followers to weigh in on something like, “What is your favorite banned book?” What if a future-immigrant answered that question and then came under scrutiny by law enforcement or immigration officers who objected to the content? In some ways it seems very far-fetched, and in other ways, unfortunately, it does not.

As I said, I do not have answers, but I do think it’s important that librarians be mindful of the broader implications of our actions. These days, it seems like there’s an ever-narrowing fine line between not censoring ourselves or our patrons and protecting our privacy online.



Madden, M. and Rainie, L. (2015). Americans’ attitudes about privacy, security and surveillance. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/05/20/americans-attitudes-about-privacy-security-and-surveillance/

Nixon, R. (2017, September 28). U.S. to collect social media data on all immigrants entering country. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/us/politics/immigrants-social-media-trump.html

Stephens, M. Module 6 lecture.

10 comments on “Social Media & Privacy”

  1. Very interesting you bring up social media and libraries. It is a very delicate balance and it does open up so many gray areas. In today’s highly charged political climate I can definitely see the danger and it does make you wonder. I get the sense that apps like Snapchat are hugely popular partly because the information comes and goes (although, as well well know, nothing is gone forever).

    • Great point about the illusion of information disappearing. I’m not very familiar with Snapchat, but I think Periscope is also supposed to be limited in availability too. Nothing every really disappears though!

  2. I agree that there are so many more questions than answers on this subject. Exploring this subject makes me realize that there are so many unknowns about who and what is being gathered in our online activity. Creating sites or workshops on privacy issues might be helpful programming for every library. Thanks for sharing your exploration!

    • I think you’re right that workshops on privacy issues would be helpful – and at those workshops, gathering participant’s names would probably not be a good idea. That would be a good way to ensure privacy.

  3. Thanks for these super important questions. I share your concerns and I am not sure what solutions are out there, if any, but I think it is productive to keep thinking about these issues and bringing them to the professional community to grapple with. Thanks for sharing.

  4. The topic of online privacy is one that both fascinates and terrifies me. I know it’s important we learn about it and do what we can to address it, but the issues seem almost too overwhelming to think about. I appreciate your questions and thoughts on the issue – it’s good to know I’m not alone.

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