The case for less privacy

I know I wasn’t born in the wrong generation because of the joy I get from editing VSCO photos and genuinely laughing at my friends’ stories.

My public social media accounts have led me to student sources for news articles, volunteer work on a political campaign and, perhaps the most important, free stickers from La Croix sparkling water.

To me, social networks can be beneficial beyond keeping up with friends and family. As a campus-based journalist and activist, media is a large part of my work. Sure, I use Instagram for the aesthetics and quasi-social interactions, but also to spread whatever word is most important on a given day.

Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center show that over half of American adults get news from social media, for better or worse. News consumption reports from research company YPulse state that over 70% of 13–39 year olds read news on their phone, and 30% of Gen-Zers called social media their primary news source.

As major news outlets covered the death of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini and the subsequent protests last fall, I unknowingly missed part of her story. It wasn’t until I found a TikTok posted by another Iranian woman, a difficult feat as the country cracked down on media usage, that I learned of the importance of Amini’s ethnic identity as a Kurd.

Left-wing British media organization Novara Media and the Middle East Media Research Institute soon continued this narrative, but it was grassroots social media sharing that first opened my eyes.

Instant news and the rise of so-called “infotainment” have undeniable pitfalls. Still, genuinely trustworthy media outlets have some responsibility to adapt. Today, this means joining social media conversations. This has certainly been present in my experience in the news section. I also plan to reflect this in my upcoming role as the Torch’s next editor-in-chief.

By following accounts run by people that I do not know personally, I am able to broaden my cultural horizons. This can help in my professional life in news media, but it also enriches my personal life. I am able to use social media as a tool to find everything from news stories to new music and clothing styles.