With all of the perks and benefits that come with the Internet – the straightforward networking ability, the access to real-time information from all of the world, the social networking phenomenon, the way we can approach a complete day without leaving our desks – with all of these wonderfully convenient and appealing facets of the internet world, there exists still that one dark cloud that seems forever to be hanging over the heads of web-users. The issue of online privacy – or even more specifically, the lack thereof, seems to constantly be showing up later in the day news, at your workplace, as well as in an incredible number of blogs around the world. So is it something we should all be worried about, or perhaps is it another needless concern?
Can we care? Many believe that younger generation, or even the digital natives, hold a blas attitude to email tracking software, not really worrying about who or what can access their property town, telephone numbers, or general demographical information. Yet interestingly, a recent survey found that it is in reality the 18-35 year olds that are more likely to be tread the online 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 network pages, they are also more prone to utilize the privacy settings in place to specifically dictate just who are able to access those private details. Based on a PEW study, as an example, only 6% of teens allow both their first and last names to be seen by the public on social networking sites. Perhaps this is because most are only using social network to help keep in contact 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 it really has been making news headlines for all of the wrong reasons. Viruses are making the rounds of Facebook pages, posing as ‘hilarious’ video links that seem to be to become posted on the wall from your friends, just to infect your pc and steal your log on details should you simply click them. Facebook recently introduced new privacy settings to enable users to better control their online privacy, only to get a backlash of complaints the new settings were too complicated, with users confused and concerned over just how their private information was being utilized. There was also a ‘Quit Facebook Day’ founded mid 2010 in an effort to boycott the social media site because of the online privacy issue, but that was 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 their way. With ‘privacy controls which can be much easier to use’ and ‘an great way to switch off all third-party services’, Facebook are trying to soothe their disgruntled users and set a conclusion towards the privacy breach rumours. A huge concern that stays is the fact even though the privacy settings are simpler to use, they are certainly 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 the general public. Because of this if we want be private, we have to discover ways to practice it.
Holding us back – Social network sites also have come under fire of late because of a quantity of terrible abductions as well as other crimes that 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. One other major gnbptu concern often comes from online purchasing. As e-commerce will continue to boom, unfortunately, so too do the cases of id theft, monetary theft and fraud. Actually, many think that the single thing holding back the e-commerce sector is lacking consumer privacy protection online.
Education is key – So does all this mean that we need to turn off our social network pages and refuse to purchase online? Interestingly, authorities often reply to public concerns over the dangers of the internet world by advising users to easily hide any information as well as any personal information, or simply not use certain websites. However perhaps it is actually more realistic and sensible to advise Web users to teach themselves on the privacy settings in the websites they frequent and make use of, and also to be personally responsible and accountable because they get involved in sharing online. Mark Zuckerberg believes that ‘people want to keep in touch and present to those around them’. Users can perform this without privacy fears if they bring it upon themselves to be informed and to use the Internet responsibly. The online world has opened up phenomenal opportunities when it comes to communication and global sharing, and although similar to the majority of things, this comes along with its threats, we could use social networking sites and e-commerce without fear whenever we are responsible, clued-up and Internet savvy.