Since we talked about Facebook/Google/other social media and their attempts at invasion of privacy etc, emails from readers have been flowing in.
And judging by the content and number of them, I just cannot sit and ignore them all, as it’s quite an important topic I think.
But before we go on, let me say that I don’t profess to be an expert in anything, whether it’s photography, digital media, blonde-ladies-wearing-red-high-heeled-stilettos (sorry folks..had to get that one in…LOL!) or whatever else, so I was surprised by the amount and methods of personal information capture that social media is capturing from us all. Here are some examples sent to me via email from readers:
1 apparently, there is a “Do not track” option on Google’s sites, but hear this…it has been proven NOT TO WORK!
2 we may think that asking normally “un-askable” questions, the type of questions you’d never ask even your closest friends, maybe sexual, financial or other personal things, by typing them into the Google search engine guarantees total anonymity……WRONG….everything we type into Google is stored, maybe forever….things such as your location, gender, possibly address and more….with no guarantee of it not being made available to researchers in the future, without your knowledge of course
3 a distinguished university professor explained that scientists have demonstrated an easy method of making previously anonymous computer data, into data that can reveal almost everything about the individual whence it came from. He goes on to say “In my work, I’ve argued that these databases will grow to connect every individual to at least one closely guarded secret. This might be a secret about a medical condition, family history, or personal preference … It is a secret that, if revealed, would cause more than embarrassment or shame; it would lead to serious, concrete, devastating harm.”
4 a respected statistician was noted as saying “It knows who you are. It knows where you live. It knows what you do,” talking about Acxiom, the biggest company in the world of database marketing. “It peers deeper into life than the FBI or the IRS, or those prying digital eyes at Facebook and Google.”
5 the FBI has a new mega-database to track suspected criminals and terrorists….that’s fine of course, but the FBI also is able to mine “social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and immediately translate foreign language tweets into English” to follow what ordinary people are doing online.
What is the answer then? As I mentioned before, I don’t foresee an answer in the near future, such has been the speed with which technological computer-based media has been allowed a free hand.
The frightening thing is that even if we don’t use the internet for watching or planning vile acts of terrorism, or whatever….the fact of life is that the browsers you and I use every day, and it doesn’t just include Google but a host of others too….although these browsers allow us to opt out of online behavioral advertising, they DO NOT prevent tracking….the present rules allow websites themselves to decide what to do with the info they garner from your surfing.
And I often laugh at he millions of users of Facebook etc, who keep on piling their personal details onto their pages….things like theirs and their family’s photos, their houses, cars, where they work, all kinds of personal stuff we normally wouldn’t tell strangers….let’s not forget that out of the hundreds of people who will read your Facebook account, only a handful will be your close relatives or friiends, the rest WILL be total strangers, so why release your details to all and sundry? Can we trust every single person on this planet? You know the answer to that!
Huge numbers of our youngsters are virtually hooked on social media nowaadays….I have heard of kids constantly monitoring their pages on their smartphones, for fear of missing something or being left out, that they leave their cellphones on all night, so that they can receive any alerts even while asleep. It’s no wonder that they are losing valuable sleep waiting for this garbage to come thru to their phones, not to mention creating unwanted stress. Further, you may have heard of so-called cyber-bullying, where kids single out a certain user and bombard him/her with downgrading comments, many times resulting in suicide of the recipient. Who can be held responsible for these deaths? Facebook, Google or the users?
Even more to the point….do we really need social media? Didn’t we all have perfectly stable and comfortable lives before Facebook and Google came along? Yes, we did.
Meantime, the very best we all can do to protect ourselves from privacy invasion, can be had from this 12-point guide.