I want to begin this post by saying that none of the information you share on the internet is secret, period. This doesn’t mean that your data should be sold or given away without your consent, but you often give that consent without even realizing it. While I certainly what users to protect themselves, there is also some good reasons to have your data online. I intend to show how your private information isn’t private, how you can make your private information private, and how the information you share is used. We will discuss adult content, advertising, and what privacy means.
Your Private Information isn’t Private Facebook is thought to many people to be private, but it isn’t as private as you might think. Sure, some stalker can’t find your home address and pictures and contact information, but others can. Any information that you put into Facebook, can and will be used against you. They will keep your plans, your relationships, your conversations. Why does Facebook care what you did last Saturday? Demographics. Facebook gets their money by advertising. They want as much information about you as possible so that they can deliver the ads that you want to see. Google does this too, robots analyze and store your searches and emails and chats to better determine what kind of person you are to deliver better advertisements to you.
While some people wonder if Google is evil or not, I don’t think they are. I would rather have more relevant ads from a company I trust. I gave them the information they are using to advertise to me and they are using that information to try to influence my purchases of things that I’m probably already looking for. Facebook, on the other hand, not only uses my information for demographics, they also share it with other developers. If you were to look at my Facebook page it is pretty minimalistic. While I signed up for some “Applications” in my early days of Facebooking, I don’t sign up for them now. I do communicate with other people, but you’ll notice that I never share information that ought to be private (not that I would anyway).
Your information is all over the place, people have been storing your information for years. Most people think that when they order a film with less-than-appropriate content from their hotel room that no one will ever know. Not so. When you order any “adult content” all the information linked to your credit card is kept in a database required by law indefinitely. There is no way you or anyone else can delete it. There are several reasons that this information is stored, but the fact of the matter is, it is stored. So if you are harboring a secret, it may not be so secret.
You know that car that is parked in your mall that says you can win it? Well, your information is sold to the people that send you your junk mail. And call you on the phone during dinner.
When you buy something from Amazon.com, you know right away that they will record that information in order to sell you stuff just like it.
This practice isn’t new.
How do you prevent your information to be stolen? I want to explain that I’m not trying to scare anyone from using the internet, just inform you. In order to protect your information from being stolen you need to realize something: your information isn’t stolen, you give it away. And therein lies your answer. If you don’t want someone to have your information, don’t give it to them. If you don’t want just anyone to know what you did on Friday night (besides the obvious not to do it) you shouldn’t go and tell everyone about it. You should realize that some of your information is stored without you knowing about it (hometown, web searching habits, etc.) but most people are okay sharing very basic information like this because it can’t really be used for nefarious purposes, but how do you keep your private information private? Don’t share it!
I hope that this post is enlightening. While it should be common sense, it doesn’t seem that it is. What do you think?