Privacy is a thing of the past

By Lucas Gilliland - Guest columnist

In an age of technology and social media, privacy is a thing of the past. When it comes to social media, your lives are virtually transparent. Internet privacy is becoming an increasingly dangerous issue as many younger people of today’s society have no problem disclosing all of their private information and opinions to social media and websites, as they see no consequences of their actions. Even more of a problem is adults that are unaware that they are being taken advantage of when they give away their social security numbers and credit card numbers. The web today is a dangerous place. We must be aware of the dangers that are around us.

The popular social media platform Facebook has recently been under fire for the mishandling of its user’s data. According to Paige Leskin of Yahoo Finance, this past September Facebook leaked the information of some 50,000 users. This scandal gained national attention when the owner of Facebook was summoned to court, and briefly the population became more concerned about their online privacy. But as the social media giant has over one and a half billion users, only one in every 34,000 users was affected. Anne Sraders states that because of this, most people either didn’t find this information threatening, or forgot about it over time. This is not the only incident involving Facebook being hacked and leaking users’ private data, though. Facebook has a long history of leaking the private information that its users, but most incidents have been within the past year. People have started to take notice of these breaches though, as Facebook stock has dropped more than 13% in the past year, and over 3% in the last week alone.

In case you are not aware, agreeing to the terms of use and app permissions of Facebook gives the app access to multiple categories of your personal information. According to Guiding Tech, these categories include your contacts, call logs, camera, camera roll, microphone, text messages, location, and other apps owned by or linked to Facebook. If that seems excessive, it’s probably because it is. Some seem threatened that their phone can record them without their knowledge and select certain adds to let the user view on their Facebook feed, and some find it helpful. So that all depends on how you feel about privacy. Some people don’t mind the idea of someone having the ability to listen to everything I say and watch me through my camera lens. But to each their own.

Hidden deep in the terms and agreements of apple tech, the Differential Policy can be found. Andy Greenberg Explains that the differential policy is a term used to describe a statistical science of trying to learn as much as possible about a group while learning as little as possible about any individual in it. This basically makes a profile for every user of apple product, including every bit of information that the electronics can obtain but your name and personal data, so they say. But our tech could be recording everything we are saying and doing, both on and off our phones, and we would never know.

You may wonder what these huge companies are doing with all this information. And as most companies can not directly use it, they often sell it to make a profit. Most often the buyers of this information are either other companies that are trying to sell something, or to governments that wish to gain knowledge about its own citizens, as well as people in other countries. According to National Geographic Magazine, the NSA constructed a mass storage center in Utah back in 2015, and it is unclear exactly what is being stored there. Though there is a good chance that much of the data being harbored at this facility is that of you and me.

Research has been done about how to avoid the big brother’s gaze. And the easiest and safest way to keep yourself safe is simple. For starters, don’t put any information on the internet that you would not want someone to see. This is basic common sense, but some people put credit card information and personal information on sites that do not require it or are not secure enough to trust with it. If you wished to take it a step further, opening social media apps on a private browser greatly decreases the ability of the site to obtain the information on your phone, unless you grant it permission manually. If an app or website is asking you something that doesn’t seem reasonable, it would probably be a good idea to think twice before filling in that box with your personal information.

By Lucas Gilliland

Guest columnist

Lucas Gilliland is a student at Edison State Community College.

Lucas Gilliland is a student at Edison State Community College.