lorna patajo-kapunan1To post or not to post—this is a question most of us ask ourselves every day, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on any other social-media sites or apps.

At present, social media has been the most powerful tool for communication and has revolutionized the way we interact and connect with others. The developments in the realm of social media are so fast-paced that a single post by anyone may become “viral” and “trending” in just a heartbeat.

With this in mind, one may wonder, does he or she enjoy any informational right to privacy as regards all of his or her activities in social media considering that his or her page should be considered as his or her own private territory in cyberspace?

To answer said question, let me start by defining first what informational privacy is. According to the words of the esteemed Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, the right to informational privacy is simply defined as “the right of individuals to control information about themselves.”

In this regard, the landmark case of Vivares v. St. Theresa’s College (G.R. No. 202666, September 29, 2014, 737 SCRA 92), exhaustively discussed a person’s informational privacy rights in social media. There, the Supreme Court (SC)  held that “[i]n this [social networking] environment, privacy is no longer grounded in reasonable expectations, but rather in some theoretical protocol better known as wishful thinking.” In other words, once a person joins the social-media community, he or she should not expect to enjoy some sense of privacy in all of his or her dealings online, since social-media profiles are, by default, viewable by the public.

Nonetheless, despite the foregoing, one need not worry of his or her privacy in cyberspace since social-media sites and/or apps have already provided measures to protect a user’s informational privacy through a privacy setting.

However, one must still exercise caution in his or her posts even if the privacy setting is set to be viewable by “connected friends or followers only.” As what was explained by the SC in the aforementioned case, there is no guarantee that such kind of posts can never be viewed or accessed by a stranger, since the source material’s friends or followers can still share the same to total strangers, or even tag others in said posts. Obviously, you will never know when your posts will be shared or tagged by your connected friends or followers as you have no control over their actions.

Accordingly, it is every person’s cyber responsibility to be aware and conscious of all of his or her
activities online.

Thus, before one can expect any informational privacy, he or she should always be mindful of making the necessary changes in the privacy setting before posting something on social media should they choose to keep such post private, especially those which have sensitive contents. Should you fail to do so, you might be the next trending topic on social media.


For comments, you may e-mail me at lpkapunan@kapunanlaw.com.



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