Whilst there are many, many implications for social media, I find myself continually drawn to the implications of privacy and the digital divide.


Part of the issues around privacy in Australia is that there is no constitutional right to privacy – privacy is protected by law, but laws are changed by parliaments, not the people! So any discussion around privacy protection in Australia must remember that there are many laws relating to privacy protection, but no legal ‘rights’ to privacy. This situation makes decisions about what can and cannot be published on the web even more difficult because one needs to consider both State and Federal laws in relation to privacy as well as our obligations as signatories to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, (see article 12 of the declaration).

In Hodson’s 2006 paper “Archives on the Web: Unlocking Collections While Safeguarding Privacy“, Alan Westin is quoted as defining privacy as: “the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.” Certainly we must ensure we comply with applicable laws, but Westin’s definition is a good starting place as it is clear and succinct.

In anything we as information professionals do, we need to remember that everyone’s privacy should be respected. It is not an easy task, but it is imperative.

Digital Divide

The digital divide is of interest to me as I grew up in a disadvantaged area in Sydney, NSW and I saw for myself what effect a lack of access to information can have on people. I was really pleased to read Jenkins’ white paper as it was made clear that providing some access is only the start of bridging the digital divide. It is so true that unless we also teach children how to be critical of what they see and read, then we are only doing half the job!

Children who have frequent access to the web can begin their critical learning much sooner than children who have infrequent access, so to truly bridge the divide we need to ensure full access to the internet and the web.

For me, full participation begins when one can access and assess the validity of information they are receiving.


Hodson, S.S. (2006). Archives on the Web: Unlocking collections while safeguarding privacy, First Monday, 11(8), August. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue11_8/hodson/index.html

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF