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Should state authority control social network activities?
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Surveillance is abused to profile people

Social media surveillance infringes on people's privacy. Governments can misuse this surveillance to profile people and to find and punish them for sharing political/religious opinions.
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The Argument

Social media surveillance means that massive amounts of personal data are collected from social media platforms and analyzed (often with automated technology).[1] This surveillance can track people’s location, chart their relationships, and monitor social movements; it infringes on people’s privacy without any evidence of their wrongdoing.[2] This type of surveillance is practiced by multiple countries around the world. An intelligence agency (such as the CIA) can easily have access to electronic identities. It can more easily trace-back a post to a user and profile people. This has led to governments punishing people for expressing opposing opinions such as in October 2018 when Vietnam imprisoned human rights defender and environmentalist Lê Đình Lượng in part because of critical posts of the government on Facebook or in March 2019 when Pakistan investigated journalists and activists that had posted support for the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.[1] In the United States, a leaked Homeland Security from 2018 showed that the Trump administration was considering designating young Muslim men as “at-risk persons” so that they will be intensively monitored.[3] This isn’t just profiling individual people, but an entire group. Social media surveillance is cited as a necessity for our safety, but surveillance that is this pervasive isn’t only a privacy concern but can be widely abused to target protesters, movement leaders, whistleblowers, and people of any particular race/religion/nationality/sex/sexual orientation/political affiliation. That is too much power to willingly hand over to the governments of the world.

Counter arguments

Making the surveillance seem personal elicits an emotional reaction, but the reality is that it is mass amounts of metadata that is being analyzed. Additionally, people should assume that what they post on the internet is not private. Knowing that their information is being monitored can serve as a deterrent to criminals. The right of people's safety is paramount. Having access to social media information can enhance crime prevention. Therefore, we cannot let paranoia over a lack of privacy get in the way of better security.



[P1] Social media surveillance infringes on people's privacy. [P2] The surveillance is used to profile people. [P3] Governments can use this surveillance to find and punish people for sharing political/religious opinions.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] People should know that if they post something on social media it isn’t private.


This page was last edited on Monday, 10 Aug 2020 at 02:25 UTC