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Privacy

Privacy is dead – get over it! Steve Rambam.

My take is, privacy is precious. I think privacy is the last true luxury. To be able to live your life as you choose without having everyone comment on it or know about, Valerie Plame.

Does privacy still exist today in the age of social media and instant messaging services? Can we trust our private profiles in social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and share personal pictures, videos, and comments with our friends and family? Can we read, download, listen, or watch illegal material because nobody is looking?

The answer is clear and simple: No! Internet privacy is a myth. “\[It\] is a murky, complicated issue full of conflicting interests, misinformation, innuendo and technology snafus. \[…\] Web sites want to know all they can about you \[…\] Complicating matters further are criminals who break into Web sites, steal the information, and use it for personal gain,” Online privacy fears are real, NBC News.

We are living in a world where our privacy is constantly under attack. For instance, Google tracks everything about us: our IP and then filters our searches based on our web history, the keywords we type in, the ads we click on, etc. Facebook tracks all written messages, posted or not, which sites its users visit even after they log off, etc. Furthermore, all Internet Service Providers (ISP) keep a record of all our web activity, but for how long is everybody’s guess. privacidad-1

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You should consider that everything you do on-line (sending an email, writing a comment or blog entry, uploading an image or video in your favourite social network, downloading a file, posting a tweet, etc.) is public. The Internet has indeed killed privacy!

In addition, many people take photos or videos with their digital cameras or mobile phones and post them on-line. “Any individual can be unwillingly tagged in a photo and displayed in a manner that might violate them personally in some way, and by the time Facebook gets round to taking down the photo, many people will have already had the chance to view, share, or distribute it,” Wikipedia.

There are many people who were having a good time with their friends or partners. They were drinking like a fish, taking drugs, laughing all night, etc., and someone posted a picture or a video showing them drinking alcohol, vomiting, behaving stupidly, dancing like a fool or getting naked. These embarrassing videos or intimate photos end up in some social network and being available to anyone, anywhere, anytime! Furthermore, deleting inappropriate messages, embarrassing photos and videos is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

We are not only talking about careless people who upload images or videos of themselves and their friends drinking, doing drugs or engaging in promiscuous behavior. We are also talking about people who intentionally upload this content in order to damage, harm, or ruin people’s life and reputation.

Cyberbullyng “includes mean text messages or emails, rumours sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles,” StopBullying.org. Bullies can use these materials to call you names, tease, humiliate, and harass you.

What can you do about it?

One thing is to spread rumors or talk badly about someone with a friend, for example, you failed an exam and blamed the teacher for not doing a good job or being incompetent. It will not make you any smarter, prettier or more successful, but this communication is private and its scope is very limited. However, writing a blog post, a comment, a tweet, etc. is a quite different beast.

What you write today will be read decades from now and it can haunt you for the rest of your life. It could be other people’s first impression of you and of those whom you have written about. It can affect people’s reputations, friendships, livelihoods, and well-being, as well as having a devastating effect on your life. Besides, writing false and defamatory statements is illegal, and you can get sued for it. Think carefully about what you are going to say before you write it online!

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