Here’s the truth about Internet “Privacy”: There is no such thing   Leave a comment

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Many of you have probably heard this saying somewhere before. The fact of the matter is it’s 100% true. It’s that simple. Once something is put on the internet, it’s no longer private. Even stuff put on Google Drive, Box.net One Drive and other online storage websites. The internet’s only 20 years old but one thing it’s certainly done well is made the world a much smaller place. I don’t just mean in regards to georgraphy and communications but I also mean in regards to Social Media.

Having said that:

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I always find it hypocritical and IRONIC so many people profess their desire to keep the government out of their private lives yet have no problem violating their own right to privacy on social media. That is the irony of using Social Media: You forfeit your right to privacy the moment you start using Social Media. This is because by design, social media is a platform for you to share yourself to the world.

While it is true Facebook has made efforts in recent years to give users more control over who can see or look up what about them, those efforts mean NOTHING if the account holder A. Doesn’t know about them and B. Doesn’t make use of them. I’ll use a recent privacy breach that happened to me with my Facebook account.This past Sunday, a family member saw something on my Facebook profile they didn’t like and gave my grief over it almost immediately. It was info regarding my employment situation I thought had been set to private. While I didn’t really care for the reaction to what was shared, I DID care about the context the info was in and who could see it.

I immediately went into my FB Privacy Settings and set all my past, present and future posts to only be viewable by my Friends list contacts. I also set my employment history and other stuff to private. I even took things a step further and set it to make it much harder for anyone not on my friends list to look up my FB Page via Facebook OR a Search Engine. I had actually removed my last name from all of my social media accounts two years ago, replacing them with my pen name Aurabolt. I started doing the same with all but one of my email accounts as well. The one email account that has my actual last name in the letterhead is for my non-social media purposes.

Let me hit you with some statistics:

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…So, yeah.

Once you’ve created a digital footprint and more specifically a social media presence, it’s there forever. There actually ARE tech companies that specialize in helping you shrink and privitize your online presnece but more often than not, their services are sought out AFTER either an account is hacked or an identity is stolen. The easiest way to prevent either of these outcomes is to simply not use social media and severely limit your internet presence as much as possible.

Those of you reading this with social media accounts should take the time to look into the sites’ privacy options if they have any. You should also limit who can see what you post be it someone on your friends list or someone who isn’t but has a social media account. At the very least, NONE of the following should be readily visible to ANYONE who views your account on social media or any other website for that matter:

 

  • Full Name: Use a nickname based on your name if you want like I do.
  • Date of Birth: Set it to private
  • Employment Status and History: No one’s business, set it to private.
  • Education Status and History: Same as above
  • Home or Work Address: Goes without saying.
  • Home or Cellphone Number: Not unless you want scammers calling you.
  • Your email address: Privately give it to whoever you want but it should NOT be visible.
  • Clear Profile Pic: Not unless you want someone to make a fake ID with your face.

–I’ll pause there and say this is all anyone needs to steal your identity or set up fraudulent accounts in your name. Yes, even finding our your social security number won’t be very hard with all this info. If you allow ANYONE on your friends list to see any of this info, MAKE SURE they’re all people you trust 100%. There are groups the younger generation are in whose only purpose is building friends lists. The major problem with these groups is  they’re sandboxes for identity thieves, scammers and con artists. More on this in a bit.

All that said, you can also just set up a Social Media account with NONE of your personal information. More and more folks have been doing this with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Kik in particular as an extra layer of protection: They have their actual FB account with people they personally known or trust and then they have a second account just for messing around. It’s become more and more important for folks to aggressively control how much of themselves is shared on social networks.

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…That last one is a book and a very good read. Check it out sometime.

The world’s increased dependency on the internet is cause for concern for reasons other than the obvious loss of privacy. I’ll get to those other reasons in spearate posts. Anyway, the Internet Privacy Rights Movement (IPRM for short) says it champions an “unregulated internet” where all who use it “should be free of government surveilance”. Their arguement is since the internet is used by the whole world, no one country should have the power to regulate the people, companies and otherwise that use it 24/7/365.

…This is the most dangerous ideology of the Digital Age yet.

This campaign is also a front for its TRUE objective: providing a cover for those who SHOULD be watched by the government to make themselves invisible online AND giving cyber criminals the tools they need to stay ahead of law enforcement. The IPRM has already made it clear: They are against government surveilence of ANY kind under ANY circumstances. Their arguement is “the government has no business looking at my browsing history”.

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I’ll put it this way: I support the online group collectively known as Anonymous, what they do and what they stand for. I have no problem admitting they are the one good thing that came out of the Snowden Leaks. They do what the governments of the world are unable and unwilling to do: True Digital Social Justice. Wall St., ISIS and many governments fear them. It goes without saying their reputation preceeds them. They consider themselves everyone and no one. They are chaos incarnate. They cannot be contained. They cannot be stopped.

For every Anonymous member unmasked, arrested or killed, 10 more move in to replace them somewhere in the world. I’ve talked about Anonymous in previous blog posts before but I think this is the first time I’ve outright saud I support what they stand for. They are aligned to no one and no thing, a force that cannot be bought or controlled. They simply do what they please.

That said, I I draw a hard distinction between Anonymous and the IPRM: Anonymous are digital ghosts because of what they do. the IPRM simply doesn’t want “anyone” to know what they’re doing. I actually don’t have a problem if it was just that. What I do have a problem with is their calls for a a completely unregulated and unmonitored internet. Since I’m going to talk about Free Speech and the internet in a separate post, I’ll leave it at that.

Back to my original train of thought:

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If you want to use the internet, like it or not YOU willingly and easily give up the right to privacy and free speech. I’ll speak more to the second point in a separate blog but here’s something to think about. Who DO all of the above websites and thousands of other commonly used websites and apps want at least your full name and email address? “It’s just to confirm it’s really a person making the account and not a macro.”, right? That’s what your answer will be if you know that much about creating accounts on websites.

The truth is, THAT is the price you pay for the free use of their “free” services. You pay with your right to privacy. See, all these websites have done something I will concede the IPRM have long been aware of: User Information is the currency of advertisers. Over the last year You Tube, Facebook and Twitter users will have noticed ads and trending articles matching topics they’ve recently browsed online appearing much more frequently. If you were browsing GameFAQS or Gamestop, you’ll see news on upcoming video games. If you were ordering pizza from the Dominos Pizza website, you’ll see comfort food Page suggessions. If were looking at my Anime Blog, you will see channel suggestions for anime fans. I assure you, that is no exaggeration.

There has also been a renewed effort by advertiserd to demonize people who use ad-blocking tools. How and why? Simple: Under the guise of giving you “control” of what ads you see. “Please disable your ad blocking ad-ons to support our website”. The funny thing websites don’t want you to know about that is they only get a fraction of the profits from Ads. I used to run a website for 5 straight years. I’d know.

…In closing, the same rules online apply in the real world. Truse NO ONE with your personal information. The more they insist “Your personal information will not be shared”, the more likely it actually is. Remember: That’s money to them.

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