With the perks and benefits which come with the Internet – the straightforward networking ability, the access to real-time information from all the world, the social media phenomenon, the way we can plan a complete day without leaving our desks – with most 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 problem of online privacy – or maybe more specifically, the lack thereof, seems to constantly be appearing at night news, at your workplace, and in countless blogs the world over. So is it something we must all be concerned with, or possibly is it another needless concern?
Can we care? Many believe that younger generation, or perhaps the digital natives, hold a blas attitude to online privacy and security, not necessarily worrying about who or what can access their property town, telephone numbers, or general demographical information. Yet interestingly, a recently available survey found that it must be in reality the 18-35 year olds that will probably be tread the online privacy waters more carefully than their older peers. It would appear that although the younger demographic could be more easygoing about posting private details across their social networking pages, they are also very likely to utilize the privacy settings in place to specifically dictate just who can access those private details. In accordance with a PEW study, for instance, only 6% of teens allow both their first and last names to be noticed by the general public on social networks. Perhaps the reason being the majority are only using social network to maintain 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 the wrong reasons. Viruses are generating the rounds of Facebook pages, posing as ‘hilarious’ video links that seem to be to get posted on the wall by your friends, simply to infect your personal computer and steal your log on details in the event you simply click them. Facebook recently introduced new privacy settings to permit users to better control their online privacy, only to have a backlash of complaints that this new settings were too complicated, with users confused and concerned over how exactly their personal information was being used. There was clearly also a ‘Quit Facebook Day’ founded mid 2010 in an effort to boycott the social media site as a result of online privacy issue, but which had been met with a lukewarm response from your 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 turn off all third-party services’, Facebook are attempting to soothe their disgruntled users and put an end to the privacy breach rumours. A big concern that stays is that however the privacy settings are simpler to use, they are certainly not set as default – put simply, until you actively search for the privacy settings and alter them yourself, your profile, information and photographs are offered to people. Because of this if we want be private, we must discover ways to get it done.
Holding us back – Social network sites have also come under fire recently because of a variety of terrible abductions along with other crimes who have resulted from users falling for disguises online. Chat rooms have always been a worry for parents, giving anyone from anywhere in the world an outlet for direct communication with under-age Web users. Another major gnbptu concern often stems from online purchasing. As e-commerce continues to boom, unfortunately, so too perform the cases of id theft, monetary theft and fraud. In fact, many think that the single thing holding back the e-commerce industry is the lack of consumer privacy protection online.
Education is vital – So does all this suggest that we need to de-activate our social network pages and refuse to purchase online? Interestingly, authorities often reply to public concerns over the hazards of the online world by advising users to simply hide any information as well as any personal details, or simply not use certain websites. However perhaps it is more realistic and sensible to advise Internet users to coach themselves on the privacy settings from the websites they frequent and make use of, and also to be personally responsible and accountable since they take part in sharing online. Mark Zuckerberg believes that ‘people wish to stay connected and share with those around them’. Users are capable of doing this without privacy fears when they carry it upon themselves to get informed as well as use the web responsibly. The web world has opened phenomenal opportunities in the way of communication and global sharing, and although similar to most things, this comes along with its threats, we are able to use social network sites and e-commerce without fear when we are responsible, clued-up and Internet savvy.