AJ Dimas-Lehndorf November 8th, 2016
Social media is probably the worst thing that will happen to your privacy in your lifetime. Many users of new media (myself included) enjoy sharing posts and activities in the pursuit of online popularity. While we believe that we are sharing personal things with our friends and family we are simultaneously disclosing personal information to the social networks themselves. Facebook collects endless amounts of personal information, but it has not been very good at protecting it. In 2010, Facebook was involved in a scandal when journalists found out that it had been selling your personal information, including your name, with advertisers. The sad part is that this scandal was one of many. Facebook has made improvements in the way it manages user privacy, even placing some of the control in the hands of the user. That said, blunders like this one have continued.
The most concerning part about the relationship between user privacy and new media is not what you’d expect. I’m most afraid of the government (which I otherwise trust (hey CSIS :)). I recently saw that new Snowden film, which dramatizes the story of the NSA contractor who exposed government programs and initiatives that compiled terabyte upon terabyte of personal information on the internet, primarily through new media. If the NSA can access all of my most personal information, then who else can? and how could this information be used against me?
Conspiracy theories aside, I have noticed a shift in interpersonal relationships. With the advent of social media, my friends are much less inclined to send me personal emails and messages to keep in touch, because in theory, my life activates are published. This publication is only theoretical, though, because most people only post the life events that they want to present, effectively constructing a façade.
Why do we even use social media then? Because it makes us feel connected. Despite my significant privacy concerns, I am not willing to live under a rock, because I like my Facebook friends (and validation that likes gets me).