Social Media and Privacy

The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one right?

I love social media.

There, I said it. Social media as become such a major part of our lives we can often never think of a world without it. Remember a time when Hollywood films pretended like the real world didn’t exist? Those days are long over, with constant references to friending, tweeting, “liking”, etc. We can’t escape it.

Social networking has made spying on your friends easier than ever.

That’s right, I said spying. Because that’s really what you’re doing (and ultimately what others are doing to you). Sure there are things you might want to share with your friends. How of those “friends” are really your friends? So what we’re really getting at here is online privacy. How important is it to you? Do you know what your rights are? Most people don’t, which is why social networking sites are constantly refreshing their privacy controls/policies.

So why is this privacy suddenly becoming a problem on the internet? Well, believe it or not, there was once a time where, by and large, the internet was…. anonymous! You could operate independantly and express your opinion of many things. Now, everywhere you go, you’re required to sign up, feed your information. Social media has convinced users to give up all kinds of information about it’s users and their friends.

Why should I care? Why does anonymous free speech matter? Anonymous free-speech is protected by the first amendment according to a 1995 Supreme Court ruling. We need to be allowed to express ourselves without fear of retaliation or judgement, or worse even yet, without someone being able to profit off of us.

Companies are exploiting that information to make money off of you. The worst part is that you don’t even necesarily control it. Social media has quickly become a melting pot in which the voice of the individual no longer holds much value. Though I may not have elected to share information about myself, that does not mean my “friends” cannot. Quickly we’re seeing the vanishing of online privacy. If someone wants to learn about you, all they really need to do is see who you’re associated with.

So what can you do? Simple.

  1. Be mindful of what information you give sites
  2. Be aware that rarely is anything you ever post on the internet kept a secret
  3. Be aware of your connections and associations
  4. Disconnect from social media
Unfortunately, #4 is a doozie. While it may be a cruel, bitch of technology at times, Social Media an insanely useful tool. So my advice, treat it like one. Use it for what it’s best suited, connecting with people you WANT to stay connected with (not mother’s friend’s uncle’s roomate), and spreading information/knowledge that you WANT to spread.