Is it safe to share that picture?

The finer details of online consent and privacy.

By Mabel Truong

Online consent and privacy are becoming increasingly important to young people in the digital age which heavily relies on social media communication. When we asked them about their thoughts on consent and privacy, they were happy to share some important aspects of what these two terms mean.

Young people have strong views about being asked for their consent when it comes to other people using their personal data and viewing their online activities. Young people view consent as synonymous with giving permission. They have identified that in giving their consent when they sign up to use an online platform, they are essentially providing permission to platform providers, to use or post their images, videos, and share their personal information. Consent also refers to when young people give permission to other people in their social network to share their posts or other online content.

A recurring theme young people have mentioned in terms of the importance of giving consent to access online spaces is that it reduces the risk of being unexpectedly exposed to something that they are uncomfortable with or having their privacy violated. By giving consent, young people should be provided with information about where their data would be stored. However, young people also acknowledge that often the consent they provide is not informed as they admit to not reading all terms and conditions and simplifying agreeing or ticking “yes”.

Young people have also recognised the opportunities for loopholes when being asked to consent as they have identified the lack of verification of online platforms to confirm that a young person is over the age requirements. However, along with these loopholes, concerns young people have about providing consent to online platforms is the risk of the service being “hacked” and potentially having their personal data leaked.

Overall, young people value privacy and their ability to feel comfortable to share content online with family and friends without the fear of being stalked or hacked. Young people recognise the importance of having settings that allow them to restrict who can or can’t see their content. On the other hand, privacy is also seen from the perspective of how private their information and conversations are with the company on which they share these conversations.