Let’s Talk About Privacy

I think I am the only person out of my friends who does not put photographs of my child on Facebook. Now I have nothing against those who do, I love looking at their photographs, and it’s not because I think Facebook is evil (In fact I love Facebook). It’s because I am a little bit paranoid. For a number of reasons. One I am not comfortable with Facebooks changing privacy policies and all that personal information in one place.

But my main problem is my concern about my son’s future privacy. What do I mean? well all those photographs and posts (“oooo little monkey  built a robot and called it Bob today and it built us a jacuzzi“), all those things you put on Facebook and twitter which detail yours and your child’s life. It is all there documented online, there forever even if for the average user it is hard to find.

So where am I going with this? well I often wonder could this innocent sounding post or photograph be used against my child later on life? Can a criminal  use some of the information I post to  easily steal his identity? Can a Pedophile or kidnapper use the information I put on there to lure my child into their clutches? I know these are horrific and extreme examples and I don’t want to scare anyone, but the possibility is there, even if it is very distant and it is something I think about periodically.

Also we do not know how the future of social media will look in 20 years time when my son will be heading out into the world. There are already reports of employers asking future employees for their Facebook logins and passwords as part of the recruitment process. It is well-known employers check Facebook and twitter pages to get a sense of their employee already. People have also lost jobs to after being “caught out” on Facebook doing something they shouldn’t have been. It seems we move faster and faster towards a future where all our information and life are live on online.

Just stepping back in time a bit, when I was about 12 and the internet as we know it was shiny and new, I started to use online chat rooms and online chat programs. This was to meet new people from around the world my own age as back then the chat program used a sort of old school pen pal system. People just wanted to meet, chat on-line and send emails. I actually met a lovely girl the same age as me and we have been friends ever since. I vividly remember my mother though lecturing my sister and I at length about the dangers of “dirty old men” on the internet. We were never to give out our names, address or phone number. Stranger danger was alive and well and we heard it over and over “DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PERSONAL DETAILS”. Somewhere along the line this message has become diluted, we have lost our fear of the internet and as a result our caution.

Fast forward 20 odd years and the social media and smart phone revolution is here. Smart phones like iPhones, and websites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionised how we communicate, what we share, and how we share it. Love it or hate it you can’t deny the impact these things have had on society, business and family/friends. At the basic level family and friends who live far away can easily keep in touch. At it’s bigger picture level it has helped begin and fuel revolution sin the middle east, and recently brought to the spot light  a war lord in Africa and sparked a movement to bring this man to justice.

But it is clear that Governments, law makers and police have not kept up with this explosion and to be honest it seems currently, unless you are an internet pirate (as in distributing illegal copies of movies and music) or a pedophile, there is not much police can do to help you if you do get in trouble or protect you from trouble. But it is not all doom and gloom technology has helped capture criminals as well. People with iPhones can download a program that lets them track and locate their phones if they are stolen or go missing. Criminals have been caught this way.

But we do seem to be on an edge, an edge of where society is changing and something will need to happen (like a huge law suit for privacy breach or a law in some country will shape the way an online business operates. In the mean time I urge you to have a serious think about your (and your child’s) internet presence and security.

If you would like some tips here is a useful page I found on 12 Ways To Protect Your Online Privacy.

What do you think? Are you comfortable with the level of information shared online? Or had you just never thought about it before?


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stacybuckeye
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 10:49:07

    Great post, Mandy, and a lot to think about. Obviously, I do a post on Gage every Sunday and share lots of personal stuff and photos. My intention was to stop when he turned one, but I’m thinking it will be closer to two. I don’t have my personal info on my blog, but I really think I could be found out with little effort by someone who knows what they’re doing, so privacy is a concern. As for the pedophile fear, I honestly think I need to be concerned about the ones he sees everyday, rather than the chance that one finds him online.
    It’s a tricky topic. I do think that in the fairly near future much of our privacy will be compromised unless you are completely off the grid. Facebook is a beast unto itself, both good and evil.


    • caspette
      Mar 24, 2012 @ 15:17:25

      I agree pedophile wise it is more likely to be someone closer to you that will harm your child but I was just thinking through extreme scenarios. It seems to be an area that doesn’t really get discussed and I dont want to sound alarmist as I love social media and use it. But I guess it is always something we should consider at the back of our minds. For instance I do not have a single person from my current work place as a facebook friend, not because I dont like them or because I bitch about work (other then the occasional what a crappy week etc) but because I worry about it causing issues in the work place through something careless mentioned. But I am a cautious/private person so it’s kinda built into me to be a bit more vague and reticent 🙂 While I am sad to hear the Gage posts are limited maybe they can morph into something a little more vague and generic? Speaking of which (Gage posts) I better head on over and catch up haven’t had time to read any blogs for awhile LOL


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