The Art of Networking

This module has made me think deeply about my online visibility and how private my life actually is online. Until now, I’ve always just signed up to anything, happy to give organisations all my information ranging from my address to household income. I’m fully aware that the majority of this information is for market research purposes, giving businesses the opportunity to break down their consumers into market segments – but do they really need to know every last detail of my life? Is there a way to prevent this?In terms of visibility, I’m fairly careful in what I share to the public. My Twitter is public, purely so I can gain the maximum enjoyment out of the social network. As well as this, I also believe that having a public Twitter also enhances your career opportunities. Twitter allows you to network with people within your chosen industry and having a private profile would reduce this. My LinkedIn profile contains information about precious work placements, education and all my successes to date. Once again, I feel like I need to share this information to fully engage with the modern world. 
Prior to posting this information, it’s under my control. If I don’t want to post something, I won’t. However, once it’s posted and shared online, I lose complete control. It’s not something I’ve ever thought about in too much detail, but it does show that to enhance your life chances, you need to take the risk of sharing information online.

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Me, myself and I – my three identities online

For me online visibility fluctuates and changes from site to site. Information such as my email address and phone number, which can be found if you are a friend with me on Facebook, you won’t be able to find on my Tumblr blog,  or Instagram page. This is partly because one these three “identities” I have online. These three identities are linked to different parts of social media. For example on Facebook and Twitter I take the role of a silent watcher, I like things, possibly retweet things but don’t really post my own content. Where as my Tumblr is filled with content, content I have created myself and content I reblog from other people, this is my more active online personality. But although on Tumblr I am more active, the intimation I share is less personal. I post photos I have taken, jokes I have thought of, feelings, ideas, everything like that, but my name is not attached to the blog in anyway, I think there is one photo of my face on there, and no one has access to my email or phone number. The third identity I have online is my past identity. I have 2 old Twitter accounts and one old Facebook account online. They are inactive and at least 5-6 years old. The content on them doesn’t reflect the person I am today. Whether that is the email I had at 14 which is no longer my email now, or the cringe worthy content I posted on them. But due to an inability to access them to delete them, they are out there for everyone to see what 14 year old me thought was cool at the time. These three identities all have different levels of visibility and what they make visible is different across the board. 

I have control over my identity on Facebook and Tumblr, but I only have control over what they want me to control. And I don’t know how long I will have control over my visibility online. Much like my old Twitter and Facebook, that visibility isn’t controlled by me any longer. 

MY PROPERTY?

I know for a fact, that if I was to enter your full real name onto the 192.com website, I could instantly tell you where it is you live or have lived, your mother and fathers names including their ages, whether you have any siblings, if you do their names and ages, as well as a timeline of your addresses.

Google HomepageThe ability to locate personal information today is so easy that its second nature to us. We don’t think about it! This is one of the reasons I decided to use an alias when signing up to social networks or any other information required websites. However, when typing my alias into the search engine google, my information and pictures from many many years ago (ok, its not that many!) where smack dead centre of the screen. I am extremely visible! There is information on me from what it is I like to do every evening, to what I like to watch, to what Church I used to attend… SCARY!

With certain accounts, such as Facebook, I’ve opted to switch on security, meaning only those I am closest to get the ‘privilege’ of viewing my information. The reason I did this was because I didn’t want to be seen as unprofessional. In the media industry many social media accounts are seen as public CV’s and therefore, enforces you to ‘behave’ and will potentially prevent me from not getting offered employment.

I doubt any of the information that I stored remains under my control. For example, once you upload a personal picture to Instagram it’s no longer yours, it becomes Instagram’s.

Do we exploit our privacy ?

As a 21st century girl it is almost impossible to not be tempted by social media. It allows us to create an image of ourself through the art of selection, and explore what is happening in other peoples lives without even speaking to them.  We feel pressured to maintain an on line image which can result in exclusion if a person does not keep up with current networks and the loss of privacy through our obsession to constantly document our lives on these sites.

I personally feel I  maintain a private social media profile through ensuring all available privacy setting are on, posting irregularly and strictly choosing who I want to accept friendship request from. However, when I look at the amount of people that follow me to the amount I regularly interact with on and off these sites, it’s clear hundreds of people I barley know experience certain aspect of my life. Events which would be private if their was no internet or I simply didn’t post. Even with my privacy settings on no content is truly private with companies having unlimited access to all conversations and activities.

But is this a breach of privacy if we are selecting what we want to share? If we all only represent certain aspect of our life’s which we feel present our personality can we truly feel their is a violation of privacy since we have chosen to let people in.

Online Privacy

Presently, we probably all have more information online than we would like. That information might be bank details saved to a particular online store account, photographs of nights out, your date of birth, or address. This is an unfortunate consequence of current state of the digital world. However, it’s kind of inevitable. We will probably never have all the luxuries of the loosely regulated internet without the risks of having information taken from us. Many people are worried about governments having access to all their information, like their addresses, D.O.Bs etc. But there is a valid argument in the expression “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear”.

Do we really think governments spend all day going through our personal details as if they haven’t got illegal wars to fight? The only reason to worry that the government would come after you would be if you’d committed a serious crime, in which case you’re kind of asking to be investigated.

And if you’re worried about potential employers seeing something bad that you might have posted on Facebook, I’d recommend not posting it on Facebook.

 

Are privacy settings really private?

Before writing this post I decided to google my name. We’ve all done it at some stage just to see what appears. Fortunately my name is rather common; due to the location settings on my phone, the more ‘popular’ Hannahs in the London region were the first results however, that doesn’t mean to say my information isn’t out there for everyone to see. My Facebook profile has very little privacy, it didn’t take me long to find myself and read through every piece of information I’d written. That then made me think about who else could access this. At some point or another everyone has looked up and ex or work colleague or friend just to see what they’re about (likes/dislikes, hobbies, pictures) but we never take a second thought as to who is doing this to us. I have pretty much my whole life online on some platform or another but sticking to Facebook there is little I can do to stop access to my information. Under the privacy settings we can adjust posts so only friends or friends of friends can see your profile but this doesn’t stop the likes of Facebook itself to rifle through my personal details. I understand that when you sign up you agree to these T&C but it makes you think, are your privacy settings really stopping people who you don’t know viewing your online presence?

Photos especially are a grey area in social media. You’d think that once you have taken a photo, you’d be the rightful owner of this but once it is on an online platform, they immediately gain some rights to the image. Is this abuse of our personal rights as a human being? I think in some ways it is over hyped. I can see why some disapprove of this, when you sign up to a site you expect a certain level of privacy, you join the online community to socialise with friends and feel safe so the idea that people can access your personal life is daunting. However, in some cases I do feel if you’re that concern, you should just avoid posting personal information. Once you agree to the company policies you are giving up, to some extent, your privacy rights.

i feel the main concerns for me comes from who can take my information. It’s unbelievably easy to forge an account and essentially create a new persona online. I belise something shound be introduced in the future to verify Facebook accounts and stop fraud.

Is privacy an option?

Most of social media platforms require users to create an account to browse the website. It demands personal information, such as date of birth, just to begin with. Most of the available applications for mobile devices require access to a vast amount of information such as contacts, pictures, location and so on. Our privacy is violated even before we put our entire personal information out there for everyone to see (or use).

I am concerned with the amount of information available about me. I created my Facebook profile about 6 years ago, when I was 15 years old. During that time, I’ve made some silly comments and posted some photos I find embarassing today. I was “private” – meaning that only my friends could see the content I post online. But I added about 500 friends – the majority of which I never spoke to in person. Now, all those people can access my personal information. Partially, it is my responsibility and choice what I disclose online, but once its there I no longer have sufficient control over it. I might go back and delete certain content, but that does not guarantee me that it will completely disappear from the cyberspace. So can I actually protect and control my personal information once it is online?