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Internet Privacy Issues: Think twice before launching into Cyberspace

It is becoming increasingly easy to get into trouble in the Cyber World with its exponentially diminishing privacy and associated dangers.  Today got off to a rocky start when I opened up a stern and upset Facebook message from my brother ordering me to immediately remove adorable photos of his six month old baby (with his cute little booty showing) which I innocently posted on Facebook last night.  My brother’s rebuke was uncomfortable but I quickly recognized its validity.  Fear of pedophiles and photos with GPS links identifying private locations came to mind as I vividly recalled my own nervousness and intense fear when my teenagers first began to use the internet, MySpace and Facebook.

It is critical to consider consequences before taking to cyberspace as seen in the results of the incidents below:

Student drops out of UCLA after anti-Asian rant backlash

Related article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/us/20rant.html
Starbucks employee fired after posting parody song

Related article: http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_18953331
18 year old becomes “Registered Sex Offender” until age 43 after sexting naked photo of 16 year old ex-girlfriend
Related article: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008845324_sexting12.html
Senator Weiner resigns after Sexting Fiasco
Related article: http://www.11alive.com/rss/article/194714/40/Weiner-resigns-after-sexting-scandal

Where does one begin to figure out the countless ways in which we unconsciously put ourselves and others at risk? More importantly, how can we take steps to prevent this and to protect ourselves, our families, our friends, our businesses and anyone else that we inadvertently place in harm’s way as a result of seemingly harmless actions?

The first step is to recognize that the Internet and Social Media contribute to a dangerous lack of privacy with increasing negative and sometimes detrimental consequences.  Cyber-stalking, fraud, job-loss, withdrawal of college admissions, pornography, phishing, viruses, malware, tracking cookies, identity theft and hacking illustrate only a few examples.  As we rapidly shoot out e-mails, post photos and videos, comment on blogs and joyously share our daily (or hourly) activities and lives on Twitter and Facebook, we must pay attention to what we are doing so seemingly innocent actions don’t result in ugly outcomes.

10 replies
  1. Valerie Berke
    Valerie Berke says:

    Sad, but true, commentary on life these days. The trouble is, though, we are becoming a paperless society, so more and more information will be available online. It seems that even the most innocent of postings may become fodder for those who would exploit it.

    Reply
  2. Marla K
    Marla K says:

    I am not computer savvy and therefore shy away from all of the social media sites. I understand the ease of reaching many with one “click” but also have much concern for the problems that one”click” can cause. It is a sad commentary on what our society has become but it is a reality.

    Reply
  3. Sharyn R
    Sharyn R says:

    There is also a huge positive side to the internet, from information gathering to social networking, and of course, contributing to revolutions-Arab Spring. Then there is the creative aspect-those artists who might not have had an opportunity to express themselves and share their creations before now have a far reaching outlet. Granted, there is a lot of crap posted as well.

    The examples you posted were of adults who should have known better. The challenge is educating our kids that their is no such thing as privacy anymore, and hope they don’t make the same mistake as your examples did. It’s a very different world from when we grew up!

    Great blog and look forward to reading more in the future!

    Reply
  4. CBase
    CBase says:

    Annoying thing just happened when I was shopping for deals on a rug online and (I should’ve known there’s no such thing as a free lunch) I clicked ‘yes’ on a button that asked if I wanted a free discount coupon on rugs. The next thing I know, I am FLOODED with SPAM. Obviously, I clicked ‘yes’ on something more than a free coupon. Grrr.

    Reply
  5. Lynette
    Lynette says:

    Great blog. I would think just plain common sense should apply.
    Don’t kiss and tell. If you have the need to share why not use the
    old method which worked for years, simply telephone or send photo’s.

    Reply
  6. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    It’s a sad reality check that we have to think twice before we hit the send key. Something very small, like posting an adorable photo or a private email between two people, shouldn’t be turned into something larger than it actually is!
    Life has changed dramatically with the Internet. Now that I have an 11 year old daughter I’m forced to be even more critical of everything she does on the computer. Much to her dissatisfaction, I check her emails and insist that I’m in the room when she goes on iChat. We’ve had numerous conversations about Internet Safety, but unfortunately, how can an innocent 11 year old child fully understand how something done very innocently can negatively affect her later in life?
    As parents, we have to be pro-active and continue to invest our time, knowledge and experience to educate our children.

    Reply
  7. Greg
    Greg says:

    Technology is moving at incredible speed. People are eager to “jump” onto and into the next “thing”. AWARENESS IS YOUR BEST PROTECTION! Information, privacy, and security are at risk for business and individuals. Seemingly simple acts, can put your friends, family, and businesses at risk. Where do we go from here? How will the backlash from all this technology affect us all?

    Reply
  8. Mr. Kcas-tun
    Mr. Kcas-tun says:

    I’d have to agree. Since the internet came out, the concept of privacy has been getting smaller and smaller. On websites like facebook, strangers have the potential to find out all kinds of information about you. And a picture, post, or video you may upload as a joke can be taken out of context and create a completely different outcome than desired. This blog is great at demonstrating the risks of internet and how to be careful. Thanks!

    Reply
  9. Linda
    Linda says:

    I don’t post any pictures of my family even though it seems like it would be fun to do and I know so many people who do it. And I’ve told my kids to be careful what they post and what pictures they’re “tagged” in. You need to really use all the privacy settings with Facebook or you’re too exposed.

    Reply
  10. Stacey R
    Stacey R says:

    Excellent Point, We don’t think twice about the information that we give strangers access to. They can analyze our buying habits, our families routines and what sports our children play and colleges they are applying to. It makes us realize that we have to really scrutinize even the most simple happy picture we post. It reminds us that we have to go out of our way to protect our own privacy

    Reply

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