Online privacy: do not exclude the ideas of youth

Adults should listen to teenagers if they want to protect the privacy of the young when using social media, Professor Dr. Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, said in his presentation on Youth, Social Media, and the Future of Privacy at Chulalongkorn University on July 4.

 Professor Dr. Urs Gasser

“We want to protect our children,” said Urs during his presentation. “But in certain areas teenagers have an even better understanding about social media than any adults. We should listen to our children.”

According to ZociaRank.com (http://www.zocialrank.com/award/), Facebook still dominates social media usage in Thailand, growing 28% since last year to 18m users. Instagram usage has grown rapidly, up 163% from last year, though from a much smaller base.

 Growth of Social Network User in Each Channel

He said that Facebook is no longer the place where people can be themselves and express themselves as they want. Also he considers Facebook as socially constraining and constrained among young people. “Facebook is really judgmental. Whatever you post immediately triggers some sort of reaction.”

“Policy makers are concerned about only Facebook,” said Urs. “But we see something is going on here where young people start understanding what Facebook is and alternative platforms are about.”

His research also shows that the young generation tend to give more importance to reputation management than privacy. Among all teenager social media users, 40% of respondents in his surveys said that they are very concerned or somewhat concerned about their privacy, while 60% answered not too concerned or not at all concerned.

“I personally don’t think that dropping out of social media is the solution to protect youth,” Urs said. “We as adults need to consider what youth are actually doing online, what their practices are, and what their attitudes toward privacy are, which might be different from adult perspectives.”

According to research from ZocialRank.com, 18 million out of 25 million internet users in Thailand have Facebook accounts. Even so, the privacy framework is still not exploited very much in Thailand, Urs said.

Total Thailand Facebook User