Technology and Privacy

Technology has become an essential product of society. As individuals within society, we rely on technology for much of our daily tasks. In fact, 78% of teenagers have a cellphone and 93% of teens have a computer or access to one at home. Although this technological use is for the most part beneficial, it does come at a cost. That major consequence in this rise of technology is the loss of privacy. In fact websites we use such as Facebook, and Google are tracking our information and locations in various ways, and I do not agree with it. They claim that because we put something online, it is automatically considered public and thus they have every reason to take that information and sell it to others. At this point many individuals go throughout their days without considering that the things they do,  and the things they think are private, are actually watched.

Who takes our privacy from us? How do they take our privacy? What can we do about it? Here are ways we lose our privacy, who takes it, and what we can do to prevent it:

Facebook When individuals use Facebook, no one typically considers much of it. In fact, most people just see the website as an opportunity to keep in touch with people and maintain friendships. It furthermore is viewed as a place where individuals can share things they enjoy, as well as speak their mind and update people through status updates. What people are unaware of though is that although Facebook does provide many useful tools to keep individuals connected, it also comes with the loss of privacy. Facebook learns a lot of information about their users through their likes on different pages, their statuses, what they do while on Facebook, what they purchase, and through their friendships. In fact, even when you play Facebook games, the permission page most individuals skip over without thinking is actually one in which invades your privacy as it asks if the application can access all of your personal information. A lot of individuals have recently complained about this loss of privacy, and Facebook has as a result been working on giving the individual more freedom to choose whether to give them their information. Facebook may furthermore, invade your privacy through their application on your phone. As previously stated, when we see Facebook, we imagine it as just a typical site that individuals can use with many benefits; however, there are costs that many of us are unaware of. One of these costs that we are unaware about is that the Facebook application from your phone has a satellite tracker on it, allowing Facebook to have access to your location as well as sounds, video sensors, and other individuals information including their phone numbers which they may actually be using. Although we consider most of what we do on Facebook to be private, it is actually the opposite. Facebook has access to our private messages and everything we post in general. Facebook thus, invades our privacy in various ways that individuals may have not even considered. Facebook is a company we even focus on in our class as they have found many ways to invade our privacy. There are always circumstances where people are unable to meet face to face, a lot of which is due to long distance friendships or relationships due to different aspects of life. To say a company has every right to take our information because we put it online is stupid. Sometimes we have no choice but to message a person on Facebook because that is our only method of communication that is easiest and cheapest for both. It does not give third parties access to any of the information or content available in these messages. No one has a right to read these messages unless someone may be a greater threat to society. Otherwise, it is the individual’s conversation between each other, and no one has the right to intervene. A person’s statuses and liked pages however, are relatively different depending on the culture. Western cultures have a habit of adding friends on Facebook that they have only met once or just know. Thus, a lot of their friends on Facebook are not truly friends. By posting status’ and liking pages, you are giving out you information to people you do not know, so essentially, you are opening some of your personal information to the public. If an individual chooses to do that, I see no difference in companies having access to that data as they know you just as much as those individuals- not at all. In collectivist cultures, however, individuals have more of a tendency to only have close peers on Facebook. They only have as many friends on Facebook as they have in person, and work to maintain those rather than adding more individuals who are not really known well enough to have access to their personal information.

facebook

Photo Credits to Softpedia.

What Can We Do With Facebook to Avoid Losing Privacy?

With Facebook, I suggest first deleting people you do not know if you do not plan on communicating with them. Facebook friends are just a number; it does not label you as better or worse than others. You should only have people on Facebook you are okay with learning your personal information. Although this will not stop the company from selling your information, this will help eliminate the chances of your photo ending up somewhere it should not be (this happened to a friend of mine). In regards to your privacy on the site, dependent on how you feel, it may be better to find a new form of communication and do your research on if that form is safe. A major thing I would do in regards to Facebook is to avoid downloading the application on your phone. You do not need it. It may be more efficient, but do you really want Facebook having access to your location and the phone numbers on your phone? Avoid it for the privacy of you and your friends.  Also look at all your privacy settings and ensure your photos , and posts are private to the public. You may furthermore, want to be aware of what applications you give your personal information to as well, as application pages always ask for access to your information.

 

facebook mobile

Photo Credit to The Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Google

Google has become something that we have become rather depended on as individuals within society. Whenever we need to know something, or find information for school or personal manners, we typically rely on Google to aid us with such information. We are accustomed to using Google many times a day, however, we never truly consider how much access Google has to our internet. What is worse is that Google believes that it has every right to take our personal data as long as it is over the internet. What is even more worrisome is that Google not only collects information about the items we search, but it has access to many things that we believe are private. Google has access to information from our cellphones, and laptops as well as settings and passwords for them. Google should be a company that is feared for how much information they take from us. Google recently admitted that satellites that were claimed to be “taking photos” for Google earth street view were actually taking photos to collect data from inside businesses as well as homes, some of this information being passwords, e-mails, and other personal information. Google has access to more information than ever imagined which could be potentially dangerous to many. Google also has a record for bypassing certain anti-tracking features as well. Google disliked being blocked from obtaining more information from the public and thereby, found a way to bypass Safari’s anti-tracking features causing many individuals to have their information taken without their awareness. Google is a powerful company that has even found loopholes into getting access to individuals information. Individuals who use other programs to protect their information may still be being tracked by Google. I used to love Google, I thought it was amazing and enjoyed how much information it could provide me. To me, having Google on my phone was a blessing just because of how useful it is. I however, never considered that with Google I was losing my privacy until recently. I now stomp around quite a bit talking about how I am, “angry at Google”. Why? I was just like everyone else with Google, and continued my reliability with Google by using Google Plus. What I did not realize was that Google Plus found a way to get access to almost everything I was doing. When you contemplate it, a lot of phones have Google Plus set up because it backs up your phone numbers, photos, videos and so forth. This was another sneaky way Google got access to all your personal information. Having Google maps completes it as they even have your location at all times. What Google Plus does not tell you is that they have permission to do things on your phone without your permission. For instance, I connected my Google Plus to my phone thinking it was a fantastic idea. One day I got this message on my phone that Google decided to edit some of my photos (without my permission). I was rather confused so proceeded to check what Google meant. What I found was that Google took ALL of my photos on my phone, and downloaded them with my exact location for the world to see. Just because I take photos, does not mean I want them plastered all over the internet. This terrified me. I immediately had to delete everything. This lead me questioning how much other information Google has taken from me without me even thinking about it.

google

Photo Credit to The Guardian: Liberty Voice.

What Can We Do About Google?

Google is a tough competitor. I learned this because I actually tried to delete Google Plus off my phone to avoid losing my privacy again. Google however, cannot be deleted from your phone. If you are like me and overly paranoid, you can force stop the application so that whenever it attempts to do something, it will stop working. With regards to Google maps, hiding your location is an essential move if you are paranoid with giving Google that information. When using Google Plus, be sure to consider the privacy aspects before backing your information onto it. Do some research and know what you are getting into. It is rather difficult to hide all your information from Google as we use it every day, however, I urge you to become more aware of the ways Google invades our privacy and ways you can minimize that in the best way possible.

google plus

Photo Credit to Semdrive.

The one last way I want to focus on how we lose our privacy is one I think is overlooked. Upon looking up research for this information I found none exist. This shocked me as this is one of the biggest ways I feel my privacy has been breached. So since I feel it is a neglected way we lose our privacy I would like to focus on it, and hopefully get people contemplating their lives and how they contribute to this.

Loss of Privacy in Everyday Society

Upon looking for information about how our privacy is lost in today’s world, a lot of individuals forget completely about society as a whole. Today, when I walk through my neighborhood without any thought, people are invading my privacy in many ways that never used to exist. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, in 2014 90% of American adults have a cellphone, and 58% of adults at that own a smartphone (“Mobile Technology Fact Sheet”). Most individuals in society have a cellphone with them at all times. Although this seems to be the norm, it is a potential danger to the loss of privacy in public. I am a firm believer that although in public, anything I choose to wear as well as anywhere I choose to go or do should remain private. I feel that my life is my life, and only individuals I give permission to have the right to videotape me or take photos of me. Since 90% of individuals in America now have cellphones, we are open to this type of loss of privacy. Not only that, but sites like Facebook create pages just to post photos or write about the things they see people doing or the way they are dressing. An example of this is the Facebook page “Only in Hamilton” where people post images and videos of individuals without their permission. I find this unacceptable and a loss of privacy, whether they deviate from the social norms, or do something we find wrong. Although I have yet to find myself a victim of this (that I am aware of at least), I still would dislike it if I had my photo or videos of me posted while I was trying to live my life. It is an invasion of my privacy. I also personally feel that by watching others behave in such a manner, and post pages such as the one mentioned above, I almost fear having things taken of me and them ending up on the internet. This is actually terrifying and immoral as no one should have any right to be recording anyone without their permission. Although it can sometimes be successful and spreading information and support along, it is also harmful as you can easily destroy a person’s reputation as well as life. Just think about the all the stories you see online where people are misunderstood and then labelled. Videos such as these exist everywhere and can destroy a person’s life in ways that are unimaginable. Imagine being videotaped while angry at someone, what if the person videotaped you labelled you as abusive because of one thing you did in the video. Imagine everything you could lose just from that one false label on the internet.

photo of strangers

Photo Credit to The Maude.

Conclusion

As you can see, our privacy is jeopardized in a variety of ways and by a variety of companies as well as members of society themselves. Most individuals seemed to have stopped caring; however, I feel we should be standing up to businesses that are trying to collect information from us. I furthermore believe that applications on our phones such as Google Plus should allow us to delete it and keep as much privacy as we can, if that is even possible anymore.

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