The new social media paradox: A symbol of self-determination or a boon for big brother?

Sara M. Smyth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the past ten years or so, mobile phone and Internet technologies have been instrumental in nearly every instance where people have gathered to demand political reform. With the help of 'new social media' applications, like Facebook and Twitter, Internet and mobile phone users can conduct realtime exchanges with millions of people across the globe. Following the Introduction, this Article begins, in Part I, with a discussion of how these tools were used by protesters around the world in 2011. Part II discusses how the same tools were used by governments, both democratic and authoritarian, to respond to the violence and mayhem during that year. In Part III, I turn to a discussion of the relevant policy concerns, first in the American, then the Canadian, legal contexts. It is significant that Canada is the first country to complete an extensive investigation into Facebook's privacy practices. As a result, Facebook users across the world now enjoy stronger privacy protections for their personal information, in terms of how it is collected, used and disclosed. In conclusion, I note that this case has important implications for other online social networking sites, even those based in other countries, which are collecting and using the personal information of Canadians in a way that does not comport with Canadian privacy laws.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)924-950
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Cyber Criminology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


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