Privacy in the internet age

Photo by Kirsten Reynolds

The mid-March revelations that data firm Cambridge Analytica acquired the personal information of some 50 million Facebook users for use in software to assist in political campaigns gave new life to the idea that any form of privacy in this day and age is simply an illusion.

It should go without saying the understanding that most any social media site is either tracking or selling any kind of data that you let them. This is simply a given in our world today.

Being a part of the first generation that has grown up in the shadow of the development and progression of the world of social media and internet proliferation, it is easy to pinpoint the reason why is it so difficult to disentangle our lives from the platforms which may serve to endanger privacy. And the fact that many in this generation have taken the nature of social media and its relation to modern life for granted is just the reason that it is so dangerous.

The targeted ads that are produced today are designed to hit directly at vulnerabilities detected by intelligent software. They are nothing like the relatively benign advertisements that were once the norm. A failure to recognize the discrepancy can prove to be harmful for all society in the case of potential targeted misinformation.

Now, some might question why we should even worry about personal information being sold. The classic refrain of “If you ain’t doing nothin’ wrong … ” comes to mind, but the fact is that privacy is guaranteed by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

It is a genuine shame if people have begun to become normalized to things such as their personal data being sold to companies with dubious intentions. Instead, users of digital-age products need to demand more responsible protection of their privacy. If the data must be sold, the process and vendor should be completely transparent.