What do people think about online Privacy

The interview process was quite interesting. Often when you spend large amounts of time researching and writing about the topic, you lose track of your own opinion and the opinion of the others around you. Interviewing someone who is not spent the time researching a topic allows for a much more guttural and instinctive reaction to questions posed regarding the topic of choice. I found it extremely helpful as the line between anonymity and data privacy is very close and is often hard to see the right and wrong for both sides of the argument.

I mainly aimed my questions around the idea of anonymity in various areas of the Internet such as social media, news and other media sites such as YouTube and tumblr. This would have perfectly set up a frame of reference for how a normal individual will use social media and how they perceive communications with other users both public and anonymous on the Internet. However, it just so happened that my interviewee didn’t use social media as much as I had expected. “I just have the standard Facebook and Instagram. I rarely post and use it to keep up with friends and organise events”.

Whilst this was a setback, it then allowed me to reframe my questions on-the-fly to tackle the understanding of privacy and where we should draw the line in terms of accountability on the Internet. We both agreed that the comment section of YouTube is a dangerous place. The constant, vile and illiterate comments made by 12 to 17-year-old males who hide behind a username that generally starts and ends with the character or number is astonishing. Anything from racist remarks, sexism and all the way to death threats have been seen. You are so you are you all are in you are the. “It’s almost impossible to answer. It’s so important for people to be able to say what they want say, but then, the misuse of the Internet, where do you draw the line”. Will this line be drawn? When will it be drawn? Can be drawn?

We then started to talk about the idea of data retention. Not only from a government standpoint but the ability for anyone to look up your Facebook profile and, if you haven’t updated privacy settings, see everything. We both agreed that we hate when people tag us in photos. All of a sudden a photo of you, of which you didn’t take has been permanently linked to your account and therefore it becomes an extension of yourself. With taking into consideration the amount of cameras that are in the world and the ever-increasing ability of facial recognition, some of the worst photos of us could come to light. And then this can be seen, stolen and used against us. We found that this is very close to complete breach of privacy as some individuals spend large amounts of time curating their online profile to make sure that it is respectable and will not cause them any issues in the future.

Unfortunately I was unwell and couldn’t give my interviewee my cultural probe. I then decided to give it to my sister as she uses the Internet as much as I do and could give me another perspective on what she finds. My probe was fairly simple. I asked my sister to be aware of what was linked to her profiles online over a week long period and to report back any findings. After a week when we discussed everything, we came to a few conclusions. My sister is still in school and under 18 so she did not have very many ‘incriminating’ photos from parties or events, but she did say that about six different people took a screenshot of her SnapChat photos. Whilst the photos were just silly faces being pulled or funny captions, it made me realise how much we put ourselves on the Internet, and often, we leave ourselves vulnerable to others possibly misusing our private information or media whether it be maliciously or just for a funny birthday photo. With the success of this small probe, I intend to continue to hand them out to people with varying Internet usage level to really understand whether this over sharing phenomenon is generational or more widespread.

Five insights:

  • The wider population does not have a grasp on the importance of online security and how easy it is to access someone else’s data.
  • Currently, I feel that there is a generational divide between those of us younger than 25 compared to the rest of the population. We tend to over share what we do and do not understand the possible consequences to our actions.
  • If you are ever online, and come across comments made by usernames with no profile picture or other information, ignore them.
  • There will continue to be a fight between anonymity and accountability. For good or for worse, eventually, a line has to be drawn and the word needs to get out to make those truly understand the consequences of misusing the Internet.
  • The world is forever becoming more and more social. The Internet provides a perfect catalyst for relationships whether they be public, private or anonymous. There needs to be more education regarding the dangers of the Internet, that an individual often places themselves in by sharing just that little bit too much.





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