Saturday, July 10, 2010

The New "Social Security" - Do we really have less privacy today than we did in earlier times?

In today's world, people are incredibly concerned about privacy and, particularly, privacy of personal information. Ironically, it is also more common these days for people to post their personal information on the internet via social media and social networking sites. Many people fear that this rise in the use of social media and social networking has translated to less privacy than in the years before the rise of the internet; however, in the past, personal information was regularly posted in newspapers and phonebooks without the benefit of the personal privacy controls offered by most websites.

Although it might seem that privacy has become a problem these days, it is actually no more a problem than it was in the past. When people post their personal information on most social networking websites, they have the option of personally choosing who views that information. Most websites offer extensive privacy controls that are simple to use and are extremely beneficial for protecting personal information. One can be extremely specific about who can view what information and, of course, people can choose to withhold information that they don't want anyone to see. It is up to each individual person what information they would like to share and with whom they would like to share it.

Before the rise of the internet, personal information was routinely shared in phonebooks, newspapers and public records. Much of the information that people fear sharing online today, including addresses and telephone numbers, was, and likely still is, accessible in paper format. Phonebooks include a great deal of information that people are loathe to share on the internet in a format that is readily accessible to a wide variety of people. Additionally, newspapers have routinely included personal information, including full names, ages, and addresses, among other things, in various articles and announcements, including engagement, marriage, birth and death announcements. Typically, people wouldn't think twice about including this sort of information in announcements submitted to a newspaper, but are extremely concerned about putting this information on the internet. Also, public records contain a great deal of personal information that is easily accessed by a variety of people.

While many people have become more concerned about privacy and sharing their personal information with the rise of the internet and social networking, the truth is that privacy is no more a problem than it was in the past. In fact, people may even have more control over their own privacy now. First of all, people have the ability to pick and choose what information they provide to social networking sites and can even choose to completely avoid these sites altogether. Additionally, people can make use of the extensive privacy controls offered by most major social media websites to regulate what information is accessible and what information is not accessible. In the past, in deciding whether to share your address and phone number, you could either put it into the public phone book or keep it entirely private. Nowadays, you can provide it only to friends and family, if you so choose, by making it visible on a social networking website to only a certain group of people. This advancement actually further protects privacy, rather than violating it. Contrary to popular belief, personal privacy is no more an issue now than it was in the past as long as individuals are smart and conscientious about the information they share online.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree totaly if anything it more private