With all the perks and benefits that come with the web – the simple networking ability, the access to real-time information from all of the world, the social media phenomenon, the way we can approach an entire day without leaving our desks – with many of these wonderfully convenient and appealing facets of the online world, there is still that one dark cloud that seems forever to be hanging on the heads of web-users. The problem of online privacy – or more specifically, the lack thereof, seems to constantly be appearing later in the day news, at the office, as well as in countless blogs the world over. So is it something we should all be worried about, or possibly is it another needless concern?
Can we care? Many believe that the younger generation, or perhaps the digital natives, hold a blas attitude to online privacy 2018, not necessarily worrying about who or what can access their house town, cell phone numbers, or general demographical information. Yet interestingly, a recently available survey found that it must be in fact the 18-35 year olds that will probably be tread the internet privacy waters more carefully than their older peers. It appears that even though the younger demographic may be more easygoing about posting private details across their social media pages, also, they are more likely to use the privacy settings in place to specifically dictate just who can access those private details. According to a PEW study, for example, only 6% of teens allow both their first and last names to be seen by the general public on social media sites. Perhaps it is because many are only using social network to help keep in touch with already existing friends – and privacy settings are adapted in order that no others outside their ‘friend’ lists can access their information.
Unfortunately for Facebook, lately this has been making news headlines for the wrong reasons. Viruses are making the rounds of Facebook pages, posing as ‘hilarious’ video links that appear to be to be posted on your wall from your friends, just to infect your computer and steal your sign in details in the event you click them. Facebook recently introduced new privacy settings to permit users to higher control their online privacy, only to have a backlash of complaints that this new settings were too complicated, with users confused and concerned over just how their private information was being used. There was a ‘Quit Facebook Day’ founded mid 2010 in an attempt to boycott the social network site as a result of online privacy issue, but which had been met having a lukewarm response through the site’s users. In May 2010, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, released an announcement declaring that new and improved privacy settings were on the way. With ‘privacy controls which can be much easier to use’ and ‘an good way to switch off all third-party services’, Facebook are attempting to soothe their disgruntled users and set a conclusion to the privacy breach rumours. A big concern that stays is the fact that although the privacy settings are easier to use, they are not set as default – quite simply, up until you actively seek out the privacy settings and change them yourself, your profile, information and photographs are for sale to people. Which means that if we want be private, we have to figure out how to practice it.
Holding us back – Social networking sites have likewise come under fire of late because of a quantity of terrible abductions and other crimes who have resulted from users falling for disguises online. Chat rooms have long been a worry for mothers and fathers, giving anyone from all over the world an outlet for direct communication with under-age Internet users. Another major gnbptu concern often stems from online purchasing. As e-commerce will continue to boom, unfortunately, so too carry out the cases of id theft, monetary theft and fraud. In reality, many think that the one thing holding back the e-commerce sector is lacking consumer privacy protection online.
Education is the key – So does all this mean that we must de-activate our social network pages and refuse to buy online? Interestingly, authorities often respond to public concerns on the hazards of the online world by advising users to simply hide any information and any personal details, or simply just not use certain websites. However perhaps it is more realistic and sensible to advise Online users to coach themselves on the privacy settings of the websites they frequent and utilize, and to be personally responsible and accountable because they participate in sharing online. Mark Zuckerberg believes that ‘people wish to stay connected and present to those around them’. Users can perform this without privacy fears should they carry it upon themselves to be informed as well as use the web responsibly. The internet world has opened phenomenal opportunities in the form of communication and global sharing, and although as with the majority of things, this comes along with its threats, we are able to use social networking sites and e-commerce without fear whenever we are responsible, clued-up and Internet savvy.