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Original Research

Policy gaps and technological deficiencies in social networking environments: Implications for information sharing

Stephen M. Mutula

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 15, No 1 (2013), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v15i1.542

Submitted: 03 October 2012
Published:  04 June 2013


Background: With the growing adoption and acceptance of social networking, there are increased concerns about the violation of the users’ legitimate rights such as privacy, confidentiality, trust, security, safety, content ownership, content accuracy, integrity, access and accessibility to computer and digital networks amongst others.

Objectives: The study sought to investigate the following research objectives to: (1) describe the types of social networks, (2) examine global penetration of the social networks, (3) outline the users’ legitimate rights that must be protected in the social networking sites (SNS), (4) determine the methods employed by SNS to protect the users’ legitimate rights and (5) identify the policy gaps and technological deficiencies in the protection of the users’ legitimate rights in the SNS.

Method: A literature survey and content analysis of the SNS user policies were used to address objective four and objective five respectively.

Results: The most actively used sites were Facebook and Twitter. Asian markets were leading in participation and in creating content than any other region. Business, education, politics and governance sectors were actively using social networking sites. Social networking sites relied upon user trust and internet security features which however, were inefficient and inadequate.

Conclusion: Whilst SNS were impacting people of varying ages and of various professional persuasions, there were increased concerns about the violation and infringement of the users’ legitimate rights. Reliance on user trust and technological security features SNS to protect the users’ legitimate rights seemed ineffectual and inadequate.

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Author affiliations

Stephen M. Mutula, Information Studies Programme, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Social media; Social networks; Africa; Ethics; Information Sharing


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ISSN: 2078-1865 (print) | ISSN: 1560-683X (online)

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