July 20th, 2018

We shouldn’t be shocked that nothing on the internet is private

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on April 13, 2018.

It is amazing how shocked we all are that our private information on Facebook has been shared and used to facilitate a range of business and political opportunities.

Nothing posted on a website is private and protected. It was naive to think that when we share our personal lives with hundreds of “friends” on Facebook that only they have access to that information.

Recently a British newspaper ran a story stating that Facebook information and other social media sites play a huge role in determining whether someone gets a mortgage or a job, regardless of their credit score.

Reflecting on past stories of bullying on Facebook or cyber crime, considerable pressure was put on Facebook to monitor sites and take action when a post was deemed inappropriate. We have actually asked for “big brother” to watch more closely and yet are not shocked just how closely we are being watched.

There are all the cases of celebrities posting their personal photos on iCloud and then being totally shocked that someone with nefarious intentions accessed those photos. Nothing posted online is private in the past or future.

With this in mind it is still baffling how people glibly agree to part with personal information. Stand in line at a checkout and routinely you will hear cashiers asking shoppers for an email address, postal code and even telephone numbers. Most people don’t think twice about giving that information.

If you ask the cashier what the intended use of the information is, most will tell you it is completely private and will not be sold to others. In some cases that may be true — for now.

Most of us have no idea how many businesses and websites are currently collecting data on us. Most of the data has been freely provided by us whether it was to sign up for an Air Miles card, pay for a pair of jeans, or share a personal story with family online.

When Mark Elliot Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard university dorm room he was probably not thinking of making the data collected available to organizations either. That is how it evolved though.

Nor do many people click on the legal document to see the terms of agreement that we are routinely asked to do. Even if you did look at the agreement in full and were able to understand all the implications there are not too many options.

Banks routinely send out changes about what they are legally allowed to do with our personal information. They will tell you that you have options — close your bank account, cancel your Visa card and pay your mortgage in full.

The world is changing rapidly. The growth and extent of social media in the last 10 years in staggering.

Some aspects we cannot change but we can certainly be more realistic about how our personal information is being used and then make a decision on exactly how far we want to be sucked into it.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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