Monday, March 5, 2012

No such thing as 100% private

Dear Danah Boyd,

I found that your article “Surveillance & Society: Dear Voyeur, meet Flaneur… Sincerely Social Media” to be an interesting read that brought up many significant points. Earlier today while sending an email over Gmail, I actually happened to be thinking about the extent of privacy and exploitation online. It was evident that Google had picked up on some of the words I had incorporated into my email and was specifically targeting certain advertisements toward me, based solely on those key words. Facebook does the same thing based on the posts I make or photos that I upload. They, like any other digital platforms, are profiting from my preferences, and what I choose to share.

There really is no absolute privacy online. We’re told over and over again, even if something is online, has the strictest privacy settings attached to it, or has even been deleted, there are still ways for the content to be found. You write that there are different power levels amongst those watching and those being watched. Anything that a person may post can be taken out of context and potentially used against them.

In one of my other courses, we recently talked about constructing resumes and virtual portfolios, all to brand oneself successfully online. The question was raised as to whether social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, should be included in the online packaging. Some classmates argued that the more social networks incorporated, the better-rounded a person comes appears to be. The counter argument with this is that Facebook and Twitter are used primarily to document one’s own personal life, and include components that may not necessarily be appropriate for the eyes of a potential employer.

Whether a potential employee chooses to include links to their social media sites or not, the reality is that they can be found either way, and an impression can be automatically formed about an individual. You also describe the two girls who utilize “different strategies to manage realities in which they are observed.” There are many different tactics to make oneself more privacy in an online context. I agree with the point you make at the end where you say that users “accept that they’re being watched,” they just don’t want others to be able to “hold power over them.”

Thank you for reading my post,

Blaine Schoen

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