Has privacy become a thing of the past ?

It is the Age of Technology – Social media and Virtual networking are all the rage. Today, people connect more through the internet than in real life. Social networking sites and apps are on a roll, gaining popularity by the minute and attracting thousands of people into the virtual realm daily.

It has become the trend to share everything about our lives on social media. But once this information is put out there, we no longer dictate how it is put to use. This is where the question of privacy crops up.

Earlier, users were encouraged to use pseudonyms on social media to protect their real identities, but now most apps and sites require us to reveal our true identities and other personal information in order to become a part of their community. In addition, we use these apps mainly to share our ideas, thoughts and other day to day aspects of our lives. In fact, our social lives pretty much revolve around social media. This has made spying and stalking through social media child’s play. An online stalker wouldn’t even have to break a sweat to gather specifics about many peoples’ lives. Naturally, identity theft and online frauds have become widespread.

But people are blinded by the outward glitz of social media because of which the issue of online privacy and security is only just gaining momentum. It is as Zuckerberg said, “Privacy is no longer a social norm”.

Actually, social media was created with the idea of facilitating the exchange of ideas, humour, emotions and creative content. However, due to the many recent advances in technology, the realm of social networking has widened to include even unconsented sharing of information.

There is a saying related to this that goes, “Anything that you are not paying for online using money, you are paying for with your information”.  This is actually a scary scenario if you think about it. All those apps that we download for ‘free’ are actually taking our information and cashing in on it. Haven’t you been taken aback when a product that you showed interest in online magically shows up in ads on other apps that you use? This happened because your search history was redistributed to third parties which made use of it for business purposes.

Moreover, it is difficult to assess the legitimacy of the people and activities we engage with online. A lucrative job offer that we applied for using our CV and bank details could very well be a trap. The new person that we met online and got comfortable with and exchanged photos and intimate information with could be a sexual predator. And who knows if all our followers to whom we give so much access to our lives are actually who they appear to be!

Virtual networking is the future and hence it is impractical to abandon the use of social media today. So what we can do as users to protect our privacy is monitor the permissions and controls that we give to such apps and sites and be mindful about the content we share online.

Once we upload something onto the World Wide Web, it will persist there forever, and there is little we can do about it. So it is best to err on the side of caution. With the constant advancements in technology and rise in cybercrimes, one can never be too careful when it comes to safeguarding one’s personal data!

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