The Evolution of Social Media and Personal Digital Privacy

The Brave New World of Online Privacy — Starring You


When you are standing in line at the checkout of your local grocery store and the cashier asks for your credit card, you gladly hand it over. Imagine how horrified you would feel if that same clerk then asked you for your address, Social Security number, and online banking passwords.

Despite the fact that you would never give out your personal data in public, you might not raise an eye at leaving snippets of your personal information on any number of websites. Yet the bits and pieces you leave behind when shopping, playing games, or tweeting can be culled together to form a profile on you that is as unique as your fingerprint. Don’t know what the words de-anonymized or social signature mean? With privacy protection barely keeping up with rapidly changing technology, these terms will become second nature to the users of Web 2.0 websites. Welcome to the brave new world of online privacy.  Remember, you are not only in the privacy picture, but also the star player.

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Privacy protection has come a long way

As far as your privacy control, times have definitely changed. When most people were purchasing their first in-home computers, the Web was a place for chat rooms and simple online games. Even with the writing of the first online privacy regulations in 2003, it was enough for a busy website to post a privacy disclaimer and personal pledge to not sell or disclose your personal data. Back then, before wireless routers and 4G smart phones, your protection of privacy was limited to the personal information you left on a single website. In these fast paced times, the personal data you leave on one website can appear on search engines, blogs, and various forums without you ever having touched your computer’s mouse to make it happen.

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Every single time you tweet or post a status update, you are surrendering a small part of your digital privacy.
Technology is evolving so rapidly that your standard definition of privacy protection no longer applies. Your electronic footprint reaches into the far corners of the invisible Web due to third-party tracking cookies that are sent to your computer from the websites you visit. Every single time you tweet or post a status update, you are surrendering a small part of your digital privacy. Think of it like a deck of cards. If you handed out one card to someone every time you posted on Facebook, eventually you’d run out of cards. The Web has given the public a fun, social outlet, and users of Web 2.0 websites simply need to become savvier with regards to protecting privacy.


Data mining is shaping the future of online marketing

Data aggregation or data mining gives companies an edge when it comes to marketing to their key demographics, but this new innovation means you have to think outside the box about protecting privacy. Recent research has shown that data companies can compile your personal information based on even the smallest amounts of information left behind on social networks, blogs, and ecommerce websites.


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Protect your personal data on social networking websites

Most people can no longer imagine a world without social networking. There is a reason that Facebook takes up so much of a Web user’s time. Facebook has incorporated Web pages designed to let you share your personal information, play games against your friends, and enter areas to advertise your business or service. Facebook has molded the past and is changing the future of social networking.

As it is one of the top five websites that has the most reach online, privacy protection has taken on an entirely new meaning on Facebook. In recent news, it was revealed that Facebook apps were leaking personal data to advertising networks and data mining companies. Even prior to this incident, Facebook has long been targeted by privacy law activists as a website that violates your electronic privacy.

In the brave new world of electronic privacy, you should still feel comfortable participating on Facebook. Part of using the website safely involves following the recommended Facebook privacy settings to the letter. Be proactive about your website privacy, and always keep in mind how quickly personal information can spread through your network of friends. The world of Web 2.0 isn’t that different from the gossip floating through your local high school. You tell a friend some personal information, and then they share with two friends. Maintaining control of your personal data is the most important step to enjoying your time on social networking websites.


Digital privacy involves controlling the personal information you send from your smart phone

Personal devices like cell phones have become a way of life, but the heavy use of smart phones has changed the way the public should be viewing Internet privacy. It’s a sign of the times that the apps you enjoy using can send your phone’s personal identification codes to advertisers and marketing companies. This information is collated with unique identifiers that log your personal devices like iPhones or iPads, resulting in detail-rich profiles that may leave out your name, but can pinpoint where you are.

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Unlike websites, you can’t remove yourself from app tracking, but you can educate yourself about your electronic privacy by staying on top of relevant electronic privacy trends and news.

It is safe to say that the face of online privacy is rapidly changing. The personal information that can be obtained from your smart phone, Facebook, and Web browsing behaviors can be compiled into what is known as your ‘social signature.’ In much the same way that you can decrease your carbon footprint by recycling, you can control your social signature by being smart about online privacy. Using ReputationDefender’s MyPrivacy package is a good first step to taking control of your website privacy. Always keep in mind: As you carve your personal path online, the choices you make today can help shape the brave new world of online privacy.

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