Surveillance “Liked” Your Facebook Status

twitter-292994_960_720.jpg(LoboStudioHamburg – Twitter Facebook Together Exchange of Information 2016 PixabayCC BY 2.0)

In our everyday lives we can get swept up in the convenience of new digital technology. In fact, we are so preoccupied monitoring our social media accounts that we often forget that we are being monitored right back (Boghosian 2013, p.57).

Present day reality assumes that any online activity will be recorded and stored for a variety of reasons including; marketing, policing, national security, and healthcare’ (Andrejevic 2013, p.37). Andrejevic states that ‘all data is potentially relevant no matter how seemingly trivial or invasive it may seem’ (Andrejevic 2013, p.36). While social media surveillance initially held good intentions, it came at a loss of certain privacy rights.

However social media surveillance has arguably become a means of social control that enforces certain behaviours by ‘gathering, storing, processing, diffusing, assessing and using data about humans’ in an attempt to restore order (Fuchs 2014, p.158). Fuchs (2014) describes modern day surveillance as an ‘instrumental means for trying to derive and accumulate benefits for certain groups or individuals at the expense of others’ (Fuchs 2014, p.158).

A8B6027B-DF4E-4570-B572-9B1AA3C59194.png(Ashlie Williamson 2016)

The monitoring of social media ‘poses significant risks to users’ privacy and free expression’ (Lamont 2016). The extensive ‘tracking technology and data mining is on a collision course with anonymity’ argues Andrejevic (2013, p.39), and every time we engage with social media we lose the rights to privacy.

After asking my fellow classmates to participate in a twitter poll, it would appear that the majority see this invasion of our privacy to be an unavoidable cost to participate on social media.

Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook ‘are web-based platforms that integrate different media, information and communication technologies’ (Fuchs 2014, p.153). Facebook is a consumerist company with one aim; accumulating capital. To do this Facebook uses ‘targeted personalised advertising, which means that it tailors advertisements to the consumption interests of the users’ (Fuchs 2014, p.164). In recent years Facebook has even begun showing ads ‘based on the other websites a user visits, even if a user doesn’t click a “Like” button’ (Warren, T 2014). Furthermore Facebook does not provide an ‘opt-out’ option from targeted advertising; users are forced to agree to this breach of privacy if they wish to use the platform.

facebook-748885_960_720(Herman – Spying – Free images on Pixabay 2016 PixabayCC BY 2.0)

Marketers attempt to alleviate fears of privacy breaches by assuring us that the ‘terms of use’ agreements reinstate our rights to remain anonymous, however this is cancelled out because ‘identity’ is irrelevant to how the data is being used. It has come to my attention that this process of data collection and analysis, being fed back to us in the form of tailored advertisements is assisting to ‘shape a culture of conformity’ (Boghosian 2013, p.57). These virtual platforms that we consider to be ‘free spaces’ are actually just ‘marketing or state spaces’ in disguise (Mosco 2009, p.152). The universal knowledge that citizens are being surveilled causes a change in behaviour, new habits are being developed to ‘self-sensor’ our lives.

“In a world of surveillance, whether or not you are actually being watched at any particular moment is not the main issue. It is the fact you could be that ruins your private life” (Fuchs 2014, p.38).

The implications that loss of privacy poses, will impact the way society functions, weakening our public sphere and compromising our values of modernity.


Andrejevic, M 2013, Infoglut: How too much information is changing the way we think and know, New York, retrieved September 5 2016, Routledge, pp. 33–41.

Boghosian, H 2013, ‘Viewpoint article: Big Brother is alive and well, which means your personal liberty isn’t’, Time: America’s secret agencies: Inside the covert world of the CIA, NSA, FBI and Special OPS, pp. 57, retrieved September 5 2016, Time Home Entertainment, Inc.

(David Szesztay, Traveller, FMA Free Music Archive – CC BY 2.0)

Fuchs, C 2014, ‘Facebook: A surveillance threat to privacy? In C Fuchs (eds) Social media: A critical introduction, Sage Publications, Los Angeles, pp. 153-178.

Funder, A 2014, ‘Black box’, Good Weekend, Age Supplement, 18 January, retrieved September 5 2016, p. 38.

Lamont, K 2016, ‘The human rights problem with social media monitoring’, accessnow, 8 January, retrieved September 5 2016,

Mosco, V 2009,’ Social process in public life’, in V Mosco (eds) The political economy of communication, Sage Publications, London, pp. 151–155.

Warren, T 2014, Facebook to show ads based on your browsing history, but let you change them, The Verge, 12 June, retrieved September 5 2016,



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