Surveillance at an interpersonal level: how did it change?
Similarly, to the authorities being able to use social media for surveillance, it can also work the other way around. We are living in a time where the vast majority of people in the western world have a camera phone; this means any form of public police misconduct can be caught on camera and with the sheer number of people actively using social media not only can it go viral but also lead to great deals of outrage. This would suggest that surveillance is no longer being conducted solely in an Orwellian manner where citizens are under the gaze of the ruling elite but is being used more universally.
Social media has had a huge impact on the way corporations and authorities use surveillance but the most influential way that social media has influenced surveillance is the influence it has had on surveillance at an interpersonal level. Tokunaga describes online surveillance in interpersonal relationships as behaviours enacted through electronic or digital technologies used to gain awareness of a target’s offline and online behaviours. Trottier looks at how social media is a new type of visibility, again linking to Foucault’s theory of Panopticism, where everyday interactions are shared and potentially can be viewed by anyone. He notes how social media works both ways, as users can watch while acknowledging they may also be watched. This has led to a culture where users watch over each other appose to directly interacting with each other, a culture where inter-personal surveillance via social media has been normalised. It has affected the way people interact with each other across various levels. Many people interviewed for Trottier’s study said that they felt great social pressures to sign up to social media from peers. It exists largely between peers but also within intimate relationships. For example, in 2010, 81% of divorce attorneys surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers said that they had seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence in the five years prior. By no means does this mean that Facebook is the main reason why people get divorced but it helps reflect the influence that social media has had on us and show how influential it has been over interpersonal relationships within society.