Privacy Rant!

We live in a world getting increasingly up in arms over the strangest perceptions of privacy I’ve ever seen! In the offline world, people get upset over cameras being put up in parks and intersections. Um. . . If you’re out for a stroll or driving somewhere, you are ALREADY being seen by anyone you pass! I’m not sure what’s so secret about being out in public. . .

In the online world the same irrationality is also present. People have this misconception that because they are sitting at home or in a cubicle and surfing the Internet, that what they do is private!!! It’s about as private as standing on a street corner downtown! If you wouldn’t share something on the street corner for all the world to see, then you certainly shouldn’t share it online for the entire world to see either.

People get upset over their IP address being seen. But that makes about as much sense as trying to put your phone number in the unlisted directory! You still hand it out to people who you want to hear from. Without your phone number, they can’t call you. Same with your street address. It’s out there on a post or a wall so that people can find you! You want your mail delivered to the right address correct? And yet without your IP address, you can’t travel the Internet, or take part in secure member forums and other member-driven websites. I don’t see people draping black tarps over their street address, but I sure see it from some avenues of life online. Makes no sense to me. . .

Groups like Anonymous are only having a hey-day because enough people have had the above misconceptions for so long now, that hackers get a kick out of revealing information that users thought was private. Occasionally, someone threatens to bring down Facebook and the same misconceptions occur. One time a friend of mine got all up in arms that Timeline revealed stuff they’d allowed to post as public knowledge. For whatever reason they had not locked down their profile using tools already in existence for the past several years, and suddenly freaked when Timeline showed them the error of their ways! Hello??? Many websites give you tools as to what will and won’t be public.

Unfortunately, Google is taking its Google+ offering and making user data searchable in their search results to anyone who is logged into the service at the time! BIG mistake! Facebook got in trouble for doing that with Beacon a couple years ago. They know better. Timeline isn’t going to show anyone anything you had already made private. Trust me, I looked at my profile’s public view and all that shows are those things I remember deliberately making public! Also like Facebook, Google+ will now be taking your name and photo and attaching it to any ads featuring products you’ve shown an interest in by leaving a review. Again, Facebook took flack for this so badly that they created a way for people to opt out of this kind of behaviour. Google+ has methods of opting out as well, but there is a catch. If you have a Youtube account, you now have a Google+ account be default. But to make use of the Google+ tools, you have to “upgrade” your Google+ account by activating it, giving you yet another social network to monitor. There is no way to opt out of Google’s photo/name usage if you don’t plan to activate your Google+ account.

The bottom line is this: the Internet is an online version of the downtown core. If you don’t want to be seen in public, stay home! If you wouldn’t share certain things on the street corner, don’t share them online!!! Sooner or later these glaring misconceptions have to shatter!!!

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