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What does true privacy mean in our virtual world?

The modern day concept of public opinion is dependent on our presence on social media

Diana Moukalled

Published: Updated:

“Mom, you can’t check my messages. I need my privacy, please” was my 10-year-old son Adam’s response while I was helping him sign up for a new e-mail. I couldn’t answer back and I was rather quite surprised by what he said.

That little person, who still wanders with his imagination during bedtime stories, is now arguing with me about his e-mail privacy and his new presence within the social media world. I don’t know when or how this happened but it seems my son has also become involved in the widespread concern over privacy in the electronic world.

There are hundreds of articles and news pieces on how to protect our names, photos and information online. But are we really looking for privacy in social media and the internet in general, or do we sometimes bluntly or indirectly seek to reveal everything so others know what we are saying, drinking, wearing, thinking and dreaming? Or do we even attempt to leak details about us without frankly stating them?

The modern day concept of public opinion is dependent on our presence on social media

Diana Moukalled

There’s currently concerns from governments over the privacy of their information and they tend to restrain what their employees say on social media. But a parent’s worry is completely different when it comes to privacy as they complain about their teenagers posting photos they shouldn’t be. I have some close friends who get very upset when family photos are published on Facebook and they prevent their children from doing so and they seek to make sure that no one reposts their children’s photos.

It’s an understandable precaution when it comes to our privacy. It’s normal for grownups to worry about their young ones and try to protect them from the deterioration of social ties in the age of ever-changing technologies. In the 1960s, there were a lot of parents who were greatly worried by the emergence of rock stars and thought that rock would destroy the morals of an entire generation.

Today, many are worried by social media, what it will do to our lives and to our children’s lives as most of us have developed varying relations with other social media users.

There’s a general state of alert on social media. Most probably, the modern day concept of public opinion is dependent on our presence on social media. I don’t know if privacy even exists in this electronic era or if privacy has a new meaning.


This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 18, 2015.

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Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.