The human-technology relationship in the contemporary era provides enormous benefits, such as the enhancement of quality of life. For some people, this relationship allows them to connect with long-distance relatives; some are able to access required information in a moment, and some use technology for entertainment. Consequently, numerous research bodies analyzing this relationship were developed, such as digital psychology.
Digital psychology overlaps with the study of cyberpsychology, media psychology, and human-computer interaction. However, digital media and technology associated with it could potentially change the comprehension of personhood, authenticity, free will, and relatedness to others. Consequently, several ethical implications are following the field, such as a potential threat to autonomy and privacy online.
Privacy is the main issue discussed in digital psychology because of the negative implications associated with the usage of user data. Some studies have identified that people tend to argue that they value personal privacy but act in a way that contradicts this argument (Parsons, 2019). People are often unaware of the consequences that may follow after posting personal content on online social networks (OSN) or do not evaluate them sufficiently (Parsons, 2019).
Therefore, owners of OSN websites and applications are concerned with the posting of inappropriate content. As a result, such OSNs as Facebook allow a certain degree of control over posted content by limiting its visibility and commenting options (Vishwanath et al., 2018). Nevertheless, the primary income source of such companies is the collection of user data for targeting algorithms that deploy advertised content to the OSN user. Consequently, this application of personal data makes it susceptible to vulnerability to cyberattacks and governmental intervention.
The question of privacy is an ongoing debate as it is not clear who owns the personal data, the end-user or the company. This issue could be illustrated using Facebook as an example. The market value of Facebook dropped by $100 billion due to the leakage of private data (Parsons, 2019). Numerous instances of hacker attacks on the company’s data servers, despite the constant improvement of privacy protections, point to the need to carefully consider which content should be posted online. Simultaneously, during the US investigation of the company’s cooperation with Donald Trump’s political firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriate access to the information of 87 million users was confirmed (Parsons, 2019). Therefore, it is evident that at least three types of entities could utilize users’ personal data: the US Government, Facebook associates, and Hackers that will manage to bypass the protection measures of Facebook.
Furthermore, the line of what can be considered private is blurred. The original meaning of privacy as the right to manage personal information is no longer relevant. The concept evolves with the development of technology and its convenience, for which it is necessary to partially give up the right to control one’s data (Ichihashi, 2020). People exchange personal messages and media files with each other utilizing OSN (Altheide, 2020). However, before being encrypted and sent to the receiver, the message is not protected. Consequently, making it vulnerable to an investigation by the OSN-owning company and other third parties. Therefore, privacy is not available online in its pristine form, but that is not to say that personal data is not protected. Protection protocols are part of the key requirements for each ONS, but additional preventive and precaution measures remain necessary.
In conclusion, digital psychology is concerned with the application of user data and associated consequences. Currently, the information shared by users online is protected by the OSNs security measure. However, it still can be accessed by various third parties for investigative, commercial, and illegal purposes. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a precautionary position while sharing personal information, messages, and media online. In order to avoid associated negative consequences.
Altheide, D. L. (2020). Media Logic and Media Psychology. The International Encyclopedia of Media Psychology, 1-15. Web.
Ichihashi, S. (2020). Online privacy and information disclosure by consumers. American Economic Review, 110(2), 569-95. Web.
Parsons, T. D. (2019). Ethical challenges in digital psychology and cyberpsychology. Cambridge University Press.
Vishwanath, A., Xu, W., & Ngoh, Z. (2018). How people protect their privacy on Facebook: A cost‐benefit view. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 69(5), 700-709. Web.