This week while going over the lectures in class on privacy really has become the first time I have put any thought on my personal privacy and just who is tracking me and what I am doing. I have never taken the time outside of setting my Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram profiles to private, to really think about who’s watching me. Just by looking at the ads on the websites I get on, I can tell my data is being sold, because ads like Amazon, Regus (where I work), Sporting Equipment, etc. pop up as things that can be sold to me, but I never really looked into how these ads were so personalized, until this week.
After the lecture on Monday about “Big Data” companies I did a little research into Axioum, and the other companies who may be following me as I browse the web and what they could know about me. It was funny that Professor Esrock made a statement that went along the lines of “these companies know more about you than your mom and dad” and honestly the more I looked into it the more it was true. I just imagined every website I got on, there were those little tracers that was shown on the 60 minutes video of who was tracking me and honestly it freaked me out. I have never really been “concerned” with who is tracing me and what they may be doing with my information because I never post anything on my accounts that would be traceable, but now I am going to take action. For a brief moment on Tuesday I considered deleting my Facebook, and cleaning up my browsing history, but I thought to myself what would that really do? They can still follow my internet history, and sell my information even if I do delete my accounts, because like we saw in class the privacy settings on Facebook change based on what Facebook wants to sell. As I saw in the first article that was posted on blackboard, no matter what I delete, or turn off, or who I trust, my data will be traced, my browsing history will be monitored and my data WILL BE SOLD. I think why? Who really cares what I do, I’m not hurting anyone, or looking into things I shouldn’t be. But it’s all about having accountability for people (including myself, your average White American) and being able to SELL my personal data to advertisers, who want nothing more than to sell me anything they have and make more money. That’s what it’s all about, MAKING MONEY for them. If you think about it, we as Facebook users are not the ones they are worried about, they are worried about anyone who wants to buy advertising space for them, so they are technically selling us as their “product.”
I have been an avid social media user since I was about 13 years old like I talked about last week in the Social media blog. At first growing up I didn’t really know the ramifications of what I was posting and honestly I would post anything that popped into my mind that I thought was cool or that would make people laugh. As I have grown up and gotten more mature, and realized how private my life should be I have become smarter in what I post and who I allow to see my profile. It took years of hearing stories on TV and through the internet about the kids who would post that they were home alone, or where they were going and having weird creepy men stalk them, and sometimes even kidnap them. For the longest time I would say “that would/could never happen to me,” I was ignorant and thought I was invincible, but after years of growing up and encountering certain situations I quickly got over that and realized anything could happen to me, I am no different than anyone else. The first situation where I realized I was posting things I shouldn’t be was my senior year in high school; I shared this story the other day in class with our classmates and Professor Esrock. Like most of us do, I was partaking in illegal things, things that could easily get me in trouble with not just my parents but with the police. I thought that since I was on Twitter and my mom only had a Facebook that I could post whatever I want and she would NEVER find out. Boy I was very wrong. I posted about what I was doing, and how it made me feel, and just how “cool” I really was. I remember like it was yesterday, I came home one day after school and saw a big stack of papers sitting on my table, and next to it was a home drug testing kit. I instantly knew that I was trouble, but I didn’t know what the papers where until my mom came out of her room, with a very very alarming look on her face. She had been searching the internet that day with her friend, who also happened to be my best friends mom and they wanted to take a look at our Twitter accounts because they didn’t have any other access to them. At that time, my account was not private and anyone could see the tweets I was sending out about the illegal things I was doing. She had printed out all my tweets and went through reading them one by one, and at the end I expectedly failed the over the counter drug test. This was the first time I thought that maybe I one, shouldn’t be tweeting about smoking and drinking, and two that my twitter & Facebook accounts should be set to private. I don’t think people realize how easy it is for not just parents, but school administrators and future employers to access your accounts and see every post you’ve ever made. The bottom line is that why do you even want to share the most private things with the world? That’s the whole point of privacy, and today nobody really cares about that. Social media has been the death of privacy and nobody treats it with the respect that they should, and they wonder why they can’t find a job! I asked my boss this morning about when they hired me if they took a look at my Facebook and Twitter, and he said yes that was one of the first things they looked at and there was nothing that was red flagged, but if that incident with my Mother wouldn’t have happened when it did, who knows what I would have been doing.
We as citizens really need to start thinking to ourselves when we are browsing the internet and posting things on to Facebook, “would my mother want to see that” or “would my employer be okay with that being public,” and if the answer is no THEN DON’T DO IT, it is really that simple. I know when it comes to these Big Data companies stalking us that there is not really much that we can do, we really can’t “opt out” but what we can do is be careful with what we do, and who we allow to see what we are doing. Big data is a big business and they are going to continue to try and hack into our computers to learn as much about us as possible, but we can stop them from seeing things they shouldn’t by simply not doing them. Remember Would my mother be okay with seeing that?