Speaking at CeBIT, the world’s largest computer expo, European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes claimed that for “millions of Germans, and billions around the world, that trust [in the Internet and social media] is now missing”.
Citing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decade-long position on the National Security Agency’s phone tapping list, Ms Kroes remarked “when even the phone of the Chancellor is not sacred, that trust can never again be taken for granted”.
Apocalyptic though this might sound, these comments should not be interpreted as a great cause for concern in the social media space. Ms Kroes herself acknowledges that this lack of trust isn’t likely to lead to people turning their back on technology. After all, even with comments such as these, the latest figures from WeAreSocialSG place the current count of active social network users worldwide to 2 billion. This is backed up by Alexa’s top site rankings, which reveal that there are still an overwhelming number of people willing to engage with and use social media.
Instead, Ms Kroes highlights the activities of whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden, referring to those information leakages as “wake-up calls”, calling upon users to protect themselves, not just with slogans and awareness campaigns, but by working “together with the best and trusted partners in and outside Europe”. It’s easy to forget about this, working in and with social media, but this applies to our social media profiles and activities just as much as it does for the wider population.