Privacy: Does it really exist online?

The issue of privacy online is a very difficult topic to tackle. The world is becoming more and more connected through online means, and this has resulted in many changes to how society views privacy. It used to be that you kept family matters to yourself and only told your closest friends what you are going through in life. With the development of social networking sites, however, privacy has become something you only monitor by what you do not post or which security buttons you hit when you make your account. I think online privacy is very hard to imagine based on how much information everyone makes available on the internet. We all want business to stay away from our information and people to stay out of our accounts, but we readily make the information available to people on a regular basis. I think a lot of “privacy” comes down to trust. We trust sites like Facebook to keep our information secret (though this has proven to be a mistake with Facebook’s policies). We trust companies we buy products from to keep our credit card information safe. We trust friends with our passwords to certain things because we think they will not do anything, which usually results in silly little things like Facebook account posts from them or more serious issues such as people we thought were friends stealing from us. In the gaming world, your privacy is considered very important to the company running the game. You are now expected to have a log in name, which must be different from your player name, a password, and a pincode. People tend to think these things are a waste of time as they try to log onto their game, but they are simply precautions to keep information private while people enjoy their game. I can remember many times where a friend gave another friend their info to do a party quest or something, only to find their items stolen or the account information changed. It is this type of instance that breaks the policy of the company and makes the person’s privacy null. There are actually rules that make it so you can get banned if you are caught sharing information on many games, simply because the company values your privacy and does not want to be responsible if you happen to get your privacy violated by not following the rules. In other online realms, however, the rules of privacy are not always so clearly defined. Logging into sites that seem harmless can often get virus put on your computer to keylog you when you input credit card information on another site. One way to deal with this is to put your password or credit card information into the site in a different order so the keylogger cannot discern the correct sequence. For example: If my credit card number was 1234 5678 9012 3456, I would put in 123789013456, then go back and insert 4562 where they belonged. The numbers are so random that someone using a keylogger would have a very difficult time figuring out how the numbers are supposed to be. There are also issues with privacy when it comes to divulging information. People post EVERYTHING on social network sites, including pictures of their parties, fights with friends or enemies (I don’t know why people add their enemies on Facebook), where they’re going at all times, etc. This takes away much of a person’s privacy because they have left it for the world to see. I think privacy is something we have trouble drawing a line with online. We want people to know us, but we seem to forget what is appropriate to share with the world and what we should keep to ourselves or close circle of friends. We have become so used to the online world that we forget how everyone could access our information and use it against us, or we think “that would never happen to me”. I do not think we can truly have online privacy unless we are willing to take precautions and really think about what we make available.

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About Kori Birch

Student in the Liberal Arts program focusing on Communication, particularly online communication and its effects on the classroom environment.