18-17 Segment 1: Our Right to Privacy in the Social Media Age

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With the increased use of advanced technology and constant access to social media, many people have started to question their right to privacy, and what that even means, when all their personal information has become public. Jennifer E. Rothman, Professor of Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, explains that in recent years, people have become more willing to put their information on social media accounts that are accessible to the public. However, this does not mean that people do not want to have control over the information. Rothman states that many social media sites take the information and pictures posted by the users and sell it. While this seems like it would be illegal, users often consent to this when they agree to the terms and conditions. There are many laws out there working to protect social media users from having their information used by the sites, but many people do not know how these laws works.

In today’s digital age, Rothman believes that we should be most worried about the right of publicity which grants a person control over the commercial use of their identity. She explains three aspects in particular that can most affect us. The first is transferability which articulates that by making something into a piece of intellectual property, the rights can be taken away from the individual. Another important aspect to note is the impact on free speech which can hinder the ability to produce or limit stories and information about real people. Finally, she expresses the conflict with copyright laws. It is important to understand the ways in which these laws work in order to be better prepared to navigate social media and understand how these sites use the information provided to them.

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