Is Privacy Over?


 

Privacy - not quite gone, not quite forgotten.

 

No, of course not.

But there will be less of it and you’ll need to be even more diligent to protect it.

The enormous advantages of working and playing online – the convenience of shopping at home or watching a movie when you want to or instantly downloading a song you like – are stronger than ever.

But so are the forces that want to track, record and analyze everything you do online.

It has become a tricky balance of knowing what to share and what not to share.  Should you post vacation pictures on Facebook?  Should you discuss politics on Twitter?  These are all things to consider as more of our lives occur online.

Here are three things to consider if you want to better protect your privacy:

  • You are being watched. When you shop online there are online marketing firms planting cookies on your computer.  They are watching and recording which products you are viewing and those that you are buying.  They are trying to analyze your behavior to figure out why you bought item A instead of item B.  This activity also happens when you visit a pornography site, a gambling site, or a site that sells illicit drugs.  You are never alone online and should think about it that way.  The internet is a public place.  You can help yourself remain anonymous by investing in software to rid your computer of cookies and other tracking software (or do it manually).  You can use the privacy features on your browser as well.  But none of those solutions are foolproof or 100 percent effective.
  • When you share – you share with everyone. Facebook recently upgraded its user interface.  One of the features always you to select your favorite movies, books, TV shows and activities and illustrate it with a photo or a piece of art.  It’s cool.  I had not filled out those fields on Facebook before, but I did because I liked looking through the different avatars that really brought to life my likes.  But I knew that even as I filled out my favorite books and movies that I was not only sharing this with my friends – but with Facebook.  They will use that information to serve me more targeted advertising.  Keep this in mind when you share on a social network.
  • Think twice before you post.It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and say something stupid (trust me, I’ve made a career of it).  So those off-color wisecracks to your brother on Facebook might make him laugh, but might offend one of your co-workers.  Or the profanity-laced tirade on Twitter might relieve your stress, but might shock your next-door neighbor.  It’s always best to read over what you way before hitting send.  And never post in anger.  Cool down first.  And the remember the golden rule: treat other people like you want to be treated.

Links:

Think of the Send Button as a Privacy Vaporizer

Photo by Alan Cleaver (via Flickr)

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