Be careful with your information

Jason Adams, Courier Staff

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We are at a point in time where the world is constantly on the internet. We have the answers to any question and the ability to contact anyone in our fingertips. But these powers to not come without dangers. There are consequences to putting information online.

A lot of the time browsing the web is spent on social media either socializing with friends or watching funny videos of cats to pass the time. Especially in high school and college where it seems everyone has an account for almost every social media site. I know personally I’ve been talked into getting pretty much every one except Twitter because I haven’t heard a good enough reason to get one yet and I’m just not that interesting. We’re also at a point where a lot of social media is interconnected, access to one account or a phone number can bring up accounts on other sites. I know if I get someone’s phone number they always end up popping up on people I may know on both Facebook and Snapchat. Which can be both fun and a little weird if it’s your boss. Anyways social media can be a great thing and has done a lot to bring people together, but there is a still a trade off.

It’s common sense that the more you put online, the more people know about you. For example if you post a picture of your cat Mr. Whiskers, it can be implied you hopefully buy cat food. Most people probably just smile at the cute cat and think nothing more of it. A cat food company might be a little more curious though. Search engines and cookies have been tracking online activity for years to see who’s interested in their products and that creepy occurence where you look something up once and two days later it becomes an ad on a website.

Companies store online activity data to help their sales and to advertise to the right people. An ad for cat food would do nothing for me because I sadly don’t own a cat. It’s an unspoken online agreement that a lot of people don’t realize they’re making. Recent uproar though has come with Facebook supposedly not realizing that data firms they used were harvesting profiles for information in the millions.

The firm reportedly took information from 87 million accounts and sold the information to analytical firms according to the Wall Street Journal. Facebook has since disassociated with the firms responsible but their lack of knowledge about the situation and the amount of information Facebook tracks isn’t helping their reputation.

You can go on Facebook and download the data they have on your account as well as see the preferences they assign to you based on their estimates of your interests, political affiliations, religion, etc. I was curious and looked up what they thought my political affiliations were and they were pretty much spot on. It’s honestly terrifying how much people can find out about you from one post or one page visit.

Just remember that anything you post or visit can pretty much be seen by anyone no matter what your privacy settings are. If there’s a will there’s a way.

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