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Somebody Watching Me: Social Media and Privacy

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Every day we hear news about the privacy concerns of social media. Nothing you do online is truly anonymous. Even proxy servers, which are made to mask your IP address, are easily traced when they need to be. But that is the nature of the Internet: remaining open, and so requiring a certain amount of sacrifice on the issue of privacy in order to be a part of it. Especially now that it has expanded to what it has become today.

But with the rise of social media, this privacy issue has been taken to a whole new level. From putting details online that anyone can read, to marketing data being sent to third parties as a cheap means of gathering what would have once been expensive information to buy, you are exposed. Anyone who has a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or similar profile has opened themselves up to scrutiny by sources you might have never imagined.

Even the government and police forces monitor social media activity. For example, Paul Chambers was arrested and convicted in 2010 for making a joke on Twitter about blowing up an airport. Which is a common occurrence around the world, these days.

While it is never a good idea to post such things online, even those with more sense might not be aware of how much of their information is easily viewable by the anonymous visitors on the web. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to give yourself some coverage.

Limit Your Personal Info – I have come across people who actually post their mobile phone number, address, place of work and more right there on their profile. This always blows my mind. Restrain yourself when providing information.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Private – With some sites this just takes a single click in the account settings to do. But Facebook in particular is much more complicated. Take some time to go through all of your settings and account info to manually select what features are on, and who can see what.

Use HTTPS – This is a secure protocol that helps protect your information from third parties. You simply add the ‘s’ into the URL, and it will work on compatible pages. Keeps in mind that most Facebook apps don’t work on HTTPS.

Conclusion
Social media is great, and it is a major communications invention that has changed the way we speak on a global scale. But there are privacy issues that have not caught up to the technology. It is up to you to protect yourself and your family, so keep an eye on how you use such sites.

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About Ajeet Khurana

  • http://www.xicanista.net xicanista

    There is a fine line we all have to walk when it comes to wanting websites to deliver highly personalized content and wanting our privacy protected.

  • http://www.techfume.com Ajeet Khurana

    Agreed xicanista, but sometimes that leads to a situation of wanting to have your cake and eat it too :)

  • http://dashter.com Dave Cole

    Hey Ajeet,

    Think you’ve made some good starting points here. It’s becoming so obvious that “social” is really just a more prolific and self-administered marketing research & cultivation method for advertisers. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does seem like the everyday consumer really doesn’t stand a chance when the networks themselves keep changing the rules on them.

    Cheers, Dave

  • http://www.techfume.com Ajeet Khurana

    Interesting point Dave. It is tough to say whether social media empowers consumers, or makes them sitting ducks!

  • http://priveyo.com/ Priveyo

    Being exposed to the public is the price we pay if we want to engage in mainstream social sites. If you are a private person, or your life will be at stake if you expose your self into social sharing sites, then there is no reason for you to be there. Privacy will always be the concern unless you go to private social media sites and create your own group there, or perhaps your own networking site.