The myth of online privacy

April 24, 2012

By Kim Bussing

By Kim Bussing Issaquah High School

From “keep out” signs swinging on our childhood bedroom doors to setting passcodes on our smart phones, personal privacy has always been regarded as something sacred.

While technological advances and judicial decisions further integrate privacy as one of our fundamental rights, it faces potential threats from the very devices and social networks that demand privacy.

Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook allow us to keep connected with relative ease and convenience. There’s no better way to get updates on homework, events and everyone’s spring break adventures than logging on to your preferred site; our lives are represented by timelines and tweets.

It can seem harmless, posting about the amazing ice cream you just had at the Ben and Jerry’s close to your house, or sharing your location when you head to Lincoln Cinemas to see “The Hunger Games.” And for the most part, it is. The likelihood of someone with malicious intent perusing your profile is slim, but updating statuses constantly or divulging personal information on one of these social media sites can undermine any efforts toward privacy.

“Using Facebook definitely makes us more susceptible to having our information out there,” Issaquah High School senior Kaileen Dougherty said. “It’s easier for people to get info about us, and it is kind of scary because it is so easily accessible.”

Preventing unwanted visitors to your profile is as easy as a quick revision of the privacy settings and can insulate you from strangers browsing your interests and favorite places to hang out on Friday nights. The best way to protect yourself and your privacy, without having to sacrifice the use of Facebook and other sites, is to make sure your privacy settings are set as high as possible.

Tumblr, a newer site that has seen an increase in widespread use, is a medium which simultaneously acts as a blog, a forum to share videos and photos, and an online diary. It is not necessary to share your name, which potentially allows for complete anonymity.

Nevertheless, posting intimate details online, regardless of whether your name is immediately attached, still allows for the information to be viewed by third parties. Tumblr is used for its privacy aspect, but how private is something that is shared on the worldwide Web?

“I think it’s a personal choice,” Dougherty said, “But in the end, you don’t want technology to become an extension of yourself, because then nothing is really ever private.”

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