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Katz Out of the Bag: The Broader Privacy Ramifications of Using Facebook

Shannon Oltmann

(Submission #250)


As the social networking site Facebook has grown in popularity, scholars have worried about the seemingly nonchalant attitude toward privacy fostered by the website; others have argued for a more nuanced understanding of privacy. The implications of privacy attitudes, engendered at Facebook, stretch far beyond that website. To understand the possible ramifications of these changing attitudes toward privacy, we must examine legal conceptions of privacy, particularly the 1967 Katz v. United States case. With the Katz case, the Supreme Court created a formal definition of how much privacy a citizen could reasonably expect in the U.S. Privacy, according to the Supreme Court, is contingent upon the amount of privacy one expects to have. Thus, a site like Facebook, which frequently decreases the privacy of its users and creates lowered expectations for privacy, could have serious implications for the offline world. By reducing the level of privacy we expect from a business and within social relationships, Facebook may permanently lower the privacy available to us both online and offline.


Program Track:  Track 6 - Information and Society: Economic, Political, Social Issues
Submission Type:  Short Paper

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