I thought I had nothing to hide – until I found a tonne of embarrassing photos of me on Facebook from 5 years ago… then I seriously considered how private I am online and what are the impacts from the ‘digital age’ on online privacy and society.
Before engaging with this topic in depth for my presentation, I thought my online presence was quite minimal and that I was quite private online. All my settings were set to private – I thought. However, looking closer, I realised that my Facebook profile was actually public and I had people ‘following’ me without me realising. So what I was openly choosing to share with family and friends, I was also sharing with strangers, which could be dangerous if the information that I make available gets into the wrong hands.
It has been suggested that we are in fact living in the ‘post-privacy era‘ in which we sacrifice so much information about ourselves that no one seems to understand the concept of privacy. Or is it that we are willing to waver that right? For some reason, with advances in social media such as Snapchat, we actually want the whole world to know what we are doing all of the time. This has social consequences – especially for teenagers – as, if you weren’t tagged in the photo, you weren’t there, even as far as ‘if you aren’t online, you don’t exist’. There are worrying statistics suggesting that’20 and 80 per cent of adolescents report feeling lonely often’ (The Independent), and from personal experience I think that, although we are more connected than ever, we are isolating ourselves more than ever. And sharing everything that we do online often appears only to be to show off to other people, which then has more negative consequences.
“People present an idealised version of themselves online and we expect to have social lives like those portrayed in the media” (Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind- The Guardian)
So, although we make think that the information that we are sharing online is harmless, it is important that we consider both our safety and the wider affect that this could be having. If the aforementioned negative affects continue into the future, the problem may only worsen. If you would like to read more about this, see the links below.