Internet, Privacy And You
In today’s digital age, the internet has become an indispensible part of our lives. But for all the progress made in technology, very little has been done to regulate this medium. The internet today is like the old "Wild West" -- its wild unstructured growth, and absence of rules, checks and balances lead to a cowboy-style behavior.
We use the internet to access information in more ways than we can imagine. But if misused, the internet like anything else can backfire on us. Lets take a look at how we can make this information revolution work for us in a safe manner.
Challenges of Social Networking
Have you thought about how friendships were made before social networking came along? Friendships blossomed through physical interactions – hanging out together, playing, biking and sharing experiences and feelings.
Today Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way we make friends, stay in touch and discover long lost associations. It has brought people together in unexpected ways and has become the principal way in which the 12-18 year olds make and retain friendships. According to a study done in 2007, nearly 54% of teenagers do not know all their online friends. But the comfort of an avatar - a false profile, suddenly seems to make it comfortable for many to share their innermost secrets online, or update their status and profile several times a day.
It is important we step back and take a good look at the way we interact socially with the world outside. While internet and mobile communication have simplified our lives in many ways, it has also complicated things for us in ways we scarcely understand.
Privacy: A Personal asset
The internet is a very public world. Very often we fail to understand the risks involved in giving out too much information. We may be at risk of violating another person's privacy or jeopardizing our own safety. An online posting of another person’s photo without their approval may be considered by some as an invasion of their privacy. Conversations meant to be “private” between two people may not stay that way. With messages moving over the internet at lightning speeds, forwarded emails, instant tweets and facebook posts can create or destroy reputations.
Digital data is stored in an electronic format, is searchable and can be easily transmitted to others -- in other words they become your permanent records. Emails, facebook posts and tweets are being used by employers to screen prospective candidates. Some employees have lost their jobs because of their open criticism of their jobs or bosses. Even courts have used this information to establish criminal behavior on suspects.
We need to be careful about what we say online. It therefore becomes our individual responsibility to protect our own privacy and respect the privacy of others as well.