Big Brother and Social Media

By Stephen Rhodes

Big Brother is watching and we seem determined to help.

Social media has kicked the stuffing out of privacy laws, notwithstanding Facebook’s recent mea culpa. Even then, while Facebook has broadened our options, they still hold most of the cards. Read How to Fix Facebook’s new privacy settings.

Others, like Coke, are beginning to understand the value of online information. In a marketing attempt to showcase its similarity to Coca-Cola, Coke Zero asked Facebook users to sign up to find their look-alike. The Facebook application uses the same facial-recognition software that “governments and international security agencies use” – but instead of finding criminals, it says, “you’ll be able to find a person that looks just like you.”

Before the application finds a match, the user has to agree to let Coke Zero pull profile information, photos, friends’ information and “other content” to work.

University of Toronto professor Andrew Clement raises concerns in this Toronto Star article.

Another article titled the End of Privacy in the National Post documents the evolution of George Orwell’s world and how young people seem unaware of the dangers.

Avner Levin, director of the Privacy Institute at Ryerson University, has conducted research on university students’ attitudes to online social networking. For instance, employers that Levin and his colleagues surveyed felt anything posted online was fair game when appraising a job candidate. Think of all the things you might have posted online in a status update, a tweet or a comment on a blog and whether it might impact your job search?

Levon says however, that over time, the people who have grown up in a digital environment will assume positions of power, and attitudes will likely change. An embarrassing online photo or questionable Internet posting in one’s past will become the norm, no more shocking than the revelation these days that an aspiring politician once smoked pot.

We seem to be  more comfortable sharing our lives and thoughts instantly to literally thousands of people, some close friends and some  strangers. We leave a large footprint online –  our friends, business associates and casual acquaintances;  our interests, hobbies and opinions; our shopping habits, travel destinations, replete with photos and videos,  and even our location through geotagging.

The world customized just for you, gleaned from every keystroke.

Scary? Your thoughts?

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