New Era of Privacy
We are in a time where almost everything operates through the internet, you are not considered “up-to-date” if you do not have the modern technology. The constant updates help to enhance the experience of the user, this could be one of the reasons for the constant increase in consumers using technology. Consumers are not only receiving benefits from technology, companies benefit as well. All inputs by users are stored and sold to advertisers, most users are not aware of this. Social media and internet have developed the issue of privacy and safety. The scary thing is that it is not like someone stole this information from you, it was voluntarily given away. The retail and storage of consumers personal information by companies is not beneficial to consumers, we should be concerned for our privacy when it comes to the internet.
Google Search is Revealing
As I was browsing the internet the other day I felt the urge to look up my mother’s name on google to see what popped up. The results of the search showed where we live, phone numbers, past addresses, and much more. Random people could even purchase access to higher levels of personal information such as a my “social security number for $45, Congressional lawmakers are now considering legislation which would make the sale of social security numbers illegal, which has been dubbed “Amy Boyer law.” (Sullivan, 2000). It seems like in the age of the internet no one can have a superficial level of privacy without other people making assumptions and finding our incriminating information online. There is almost nothing that people cannot get access to, in the age of ever-changing technology norms it is hard for the government to catch all of the glitches in the system. Once our information is out there it is hard to erase it.
Below is a screenshot of my web browsing history. Google also includes my mail into the search history.
Social Media Stores Everything
Tracking Location Everywhere Easily Done By Cell Phones
Cell phones can be used as an effective tracking device because it can allow social media to share your location. When deciding privacy controls for location data it can seem difficult for some users. For example, when I turn on my car to go to work my maps app on my phone automatically tells me how long it will take for me to get to work. When visiting locations social media sites offer users the option to “check-in”, this then allows their followers to pinpoint the location of their moment. “The willingness to share one’s location and the level of detail shared depends highly on who is requesting this information and the social context of the request” (Tsai, 2009, p. 5). If companies are going to continue collecting our location data then it should be known what it is used for besides the convenience of consumers. It is our responsibly to value our location by monitoring our settings closer. Companies are not the only ones who are interested in our information, hackers can go into your network and take all of your information. Something as simple as hacking into your wi-fi networks could be an easy way for hackers to find out our precious information. “Depending on how uniquely you name your home network, a person might also figure out where you live. For example, say you name your Wi-fi JonesOnElmSt.” (Catlett, 2017)
Comfortability with Online Information Sharing
When scrolling through social media it is not uncommon to come across illegal activities. When people do this, government entities can see what is posted just like the general population can. This is not only dangerous for the individual but the continuous freedom behind the screen might force the government to get involved. “First, it can result in the slow creep toward a totalitarian state. Second, it can chill democratic activities and interfere with individual self-determination. Third, it can lead to the danger of harms arising in bureaucratic settings. Individuals, especially in times of crisis, are vulnerable to abuse from government misuse of personal information.” (Marwick, 2010 ,p. 9)
When utilizing social media sites it is easy to become very comfortable with your audience. In these virtual communities sometimes people will portray a different persona other than themselves online. Now our employers can conduct a social media background check on their employees. “Social Intelligence generates reports for employers with both negative and positive information from SNSs” (Saunders, 2012, p. 11). When we apply for jobs employers now have access to our outside work activities and employees may never know that the check has been done. In a world where individual privacy is a thing of the past it is only a matter of time before our social media profiles are integrated into our place of work.
As consumers, it is not much that we are going to be able to conceal with the rapid expansion of information sharing online. It is easy to volunteer personal information because almost everyone is using it, with billions of users on the internet it is hard to not join in on the fun. Companies and consumers should work together by making privacy policies more transparent. Users deserve to know about the tradeoff of their own information.
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