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Transparency

Because the Internet still has relatively few regulations, issues of law can be confusing and many lines are blurred between what is acceptable or not. Our textbook gives the example of Facebook and how privacy settings were changed without users knowing. Facebook might not have had a legal obligation to inform their users of these changes, but once users found out they made it clear that they were unhappy. Facebook realized that to keep the trust and support of their users they had to maintain a higher level of transparency in their actions. This resulted in efforts to make users aware of the privacy and security options on Facebook, so that everyone could better regulate their own profile. This kind of transparency is important in the online world because it is so easy do things like Facebook did and use people’s information without their knowing. The only way to have a workable site is to maintain some sense of trust through transparency.
It is also incredibly easy to spread false or questionable information on the Internet. For example if you go to the library and read a traditional encyclopedia, you can probably trust that information to be accurate because it has been through the process of being researched and published by respected sources. However if you go to Wikipedia you have to realize that while it is generally accurate, you can be getting any information since anyone can edit the page. It is important that Wikipedia has transparency, such as being able to track changes that were made to the page, and being able to follow the sources that contributors got their information from.
Similarly, online anyone can publish a story on a news blog, give advice on a forum, etc. Whereas in traditional media, people can trust news more easily because of the credibility of a known source, online it is much more up to users to discern where information comes from. In print news, photojournalists are held to strict standards that their work must not be manipulated, so that readers know they are seeing the “truth.” But online it would be easy for someone to manipulate a photo and for it to become widely circulated, spreading misinformation. It is more important to question the information found online, which is why transparency is more necessary online than in traditional media. We need to be able to track information and find out where and who it came from before we can trust it.

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