Facebook: A Peeping Tom?

The internet has never been about privacy. From its inception, the world wide web has been about sharing information. We’ve known this for a while, in fact my first introduction to the internet was for research for a social studies report in grade 5. Knowing this, why are there so many people flocking to facebook, twitter and tumblr among others to post potentially damning evidence of personal indiscretions? I’ve had more than my fair share of embarrassing pictures posted on facebook by friends (and with friends like those, who needs enemies?) many of which have made me consider deleting my account.

So why don’t I? I’m a fairly private fellow, in fact I have a hard time putting my name on most petitions that come my way solely because I don’t want the next person to register seeing my name, address and phone number. Whenever I see a sign saying that there is filming taking place nearby, I try to avoid cameras. Few people aside from my parents know my email address. I’m not a fugitive, but I do like to keep to myself. However, my facebook page is filled with likes and dislikes, which are sold to third parties in order to advertise to me better (google says they don’t sell information, but why then can’t I escape ads for Varisty Blues t-shirts – a movie on my ‘favourite movies’ list). My google searches (logged by google, of course) would lead anyone reading them to believe me to be a very different person than my friends see me. My twitter feed is filled with pithy remarks and sarcastic mutterings, some of which are wildly inappropriate for the average viewing audience.

Now twitter and facebook want to know exactly where I am. Interesting, and certainly a fine addition for jealous partners the world over but aside from tracking philanderers, what practical purpose does it serve? I can find none aside from being put on big brother’s radar, if we aren’t already being tracked by our cell phones.

The biggest issue I take with facebook’s implementation of this is that we as users are expected to want to be tracked like a micro-chipped snow leopard. I was unnerved that for a few days, a friend could have tagged me to be at a location. I have been distrustful of this technology since we started seeing those damn where you at commercials, so having it forced upon me was unpleasant. I’ve paid a bit of attention since I changed my setting, and few of my friends take advantage of this application. Here’s to hoping this is just a passing phase.

In tying in with my theme, the UVSS has been wrapped up in its own privacy issues before. Former chair Veronica Harrison had some unflattering emails of hers come to light which wound up losing her a great deal of support, essentially costing her the election; and wanton twittering of miscellaneous ideas and careless use of facebook has led the CFS to up their game in a bid to maintain their imperial control over our society’s governing board.

Privacy should be more than an option in a settings menu, but realistically it starts with what you put on the internet. Use facebook to express yourself and your individuality (on a page with the same layout as everyone elses unique page) and stand out, but be ready to stand behind what you put online. Real life and cyberspace are one and the same.

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