Sunday, April 18, 2010

Privacy Issues In A Digital World

With the revolution of the Internet and communication in general, issues about privacy continue to rise. Although the Internet is basically an information haven, the growing concern is that a lot of people's personal information is being seen by others on the Internet. From social networking sites to sites that advertise to gain more consumers, certain information that people think that some individuals are seeing may actually be seen by almost everyone, especially when dealing with websites such as Facebook. Here's some feedback on how this comes about.

In December, when Facebook made changes to its website, most users of the website opted to use the recommended settings without really understanding that they gave
Facebook the right to publicize private information such as status updates, photos, and shared links. The best suggestion to keep things such as status updates and photos private, each Facebook user should go to the privacy settings and change each privacy option to "only friends". If they don't, then any stranger can see what's on that person's profile page.

Another problem with Facebook in terms of privacy is that a person's profile can show up in search engines such as Google if the privacy settings aren't set correctly. On Facebook, if the search settings are set to "allow", any information marked as visible to "everyone" would be able to find your profile by typing it into the Google search engine. A friend warned me about this a couple of months ago. So, I typed my name in the Google search engine, and sure enough, my profile picture came up, along with other information. That made me wonder who could have been viewing my profile without me knowing? After I saw this, I immediately changed all of my settings on Facebook so that only my friends on the website can view my profile.

Everyone should take the time the change the privacy settings so that future employers won't see inappropriate photos of them at a bar or one of their friends posting something naughty on their wall. Employers do check to see how their potential employers are outside of work, so it's better to be safe than sorry. For more on this issue, look at the following video:

In terms of information on the Internet, sometimes it is openly requested online when we fill out online forms for certain websites. Online websites and advertisers know information about people because of cookies, which are little text files created
on your computer that contain information left there by the websites they visited. The problem with this is that most web users don't understand privacy policies even when they are clearly noted.

This is because privacy policies aren't "preserving privacy at all", according to Marc Rotenberg of Electronic Privacy Information Center. He thinks that "businesses are wrong to post a privacy policy and then believe that it provides a basis for them to disclose the information of others". The Federal Trade Commission favored industry self-regulation, which requires disclosure of information, but not banning the collection of personal data from visitors to websites, despite the fact that Internet users don't want their personal information collected. The following video
has more information on this issue:

Everyone has the right to their privacy. This should go for the Internet as well. No one wants people to know everything about them. This problem has to be fixed soon or we may not be able to keep much personal information secure much longer in the future.

Information used in this blog can be found at the following links:

"The 3 Facebook Settinfs Every User Should Check Now", Sarah Perez, N.Y. Times, January 20, 2010.

"Internet Users Raise Privacy Concerns", Art Chimes, VOA News, April 29, 2008.

Videos found at the following links:

Images found at the following websites:
Google Image
Facebook Image


  1. Good post and that video reminds me of my work. I work at a hospital and we are watched ALL THE TIME!!! They are constantly sending out notices that say "dont forget monitoring of the internet is being taken seriously." Its amazing!!! You cannot trust anyone, even your employer

  2. I totally agree with you about everyone taking the time out and edit their privacy settings. A while ago, I also decided to Google my name, just being curious as to what would pop up. And there it was, my Facebook profile. This freaked me out, because if future employers or even just random people knew my name I could have been easily accessed. So after that, I hurried and changed my settings, and now I feel a little at ease.