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Response: Who controls our online privacy?

Do we really care about privacy? How many times have you read a Privacy Contract before signing up for a website? The language that they use is not an excuse. A large number of those terms are written in plain language and are easy to understand. Even Google is pretty clear when saying that, yes, they will expose you, gather your data, and make everything they want with it – but just for your own benefit. The fact is that people in the “Information Age” talk too much about privacy, but do so little in order to preserve their individual life, at least when it is possible.

Even when we people care about their privacy, it is difficult to control how their lives will be exposed online. Firstly, the requisites of commercial society made the internet a place to gather consumer information, and almost all of the social media and other websites make their profits based on selling data and / or publish advertising according to this data. Secondly, when it comes particularly to social media, it is not possible to delimitate and act according to a specific role. I mean, people do not create different profiles for each social group in which they take part.

As Helen Nissenbaum points out, Internet promotes a collapse of contexts, making difficult to separate information according to the situations and persons involved. It means that in the virtual world, the receiver of a determined message might not always be the one that the sender was imagining. For example, let’s take the case discussed by Daniel Solove. He talks about Jessica Cutler, who created a personal blog that was intended to be read only by her friends. However, a connector (someone who can spread information quickly) promoted her blog and then everybody interested in gossips could access it.

In addition, Solove’s explanations about Cutler and the professors, can also show another facet of social media. These people not only exposed their lives, but also the privacy of other people who were the subject of their blogs. Thus, Solove gave us a chance to think about how we are vulnerable on the internet, even when we are cautious. Perhaps we can set strict configurations on the websites that we access, but what can we do if other people are talking about us? How to be sure that the increasing amount of individuals walking around with their devices are not taking a picture of you and posting it on websites that can compromise your individuality and privacy? You might want to check if you are not the meme of the year or if you are not illustrating a page of CreepShots. The fact is that our own privacy is no longer under our total control.

When it comes to privacy online, it is not just a question of what we are sharing. It is also related to how we share it, who can read it, and, even scarier, what other people can share about us. And, if it was not enough, we also have websites collecting data with your explicit consent since we “read” and “agreed” with the terms and conditions.

Works Cited

Solove, Daniel J. The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007. Print.

Nissenbaum, Helen. Privacy in Context. Stanford, CA: Stanford Law Books, 2010. Print.


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