With social media getting bigger and bigger, more people are starting to wonder about their privacy. The business model with social media is to have as much information as possible about the members, which at the same time means less private life. Social media like Facebook have advanced privacy policies that changes all the time, and even if the members set their privacy settings to maximum the security of Facebook fail over and over again with ALL the information about every member possible to read for any person, and for a while even their private chats. This, together with most of Facebook’s applications (including Farmville used by 60+ million users) still leaking user information to research- and advertising companies makes the privacy settings a total hoax. Even if you one day finally decide to delete your account, Facebook keeps all your information for private use for an unknown period of time.
Some of the new functions on Facebook is automatic face recognition and location tracing. This means, not only will it be possible to see where you have been at all time, but also to find all the pictures with you on them, even if you are only in the background of a stranger’s photo. Facebook already have around 75 billion uploaded photographs at this moment, with this number raising by 140 000 uploaded pictures every minute. In earlier versions of their Terms of Service they stated that the users owned the single rights of their pictures and that anything else was only rumors, but this have now changed and Facebook have the right to use all your data and pictures however they want. One of Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a live interview that the age of privacy is over, giving companies and developers open information about all Facebook member’s connections to friends and interests. This goes hand in hand with the changes in Facebook’s default settings that have made the member’s data more and more open to the public for every change.
Not only are everything you post online saved for future need of the companies, also everything you search for in the search engines are saved. This means that it’s very easy to create a not only current profile of a person, but what their interests and thoughts was at a certain time in the history.
In 2009 Microsoft, who bought Skype in May 2011 and which is now also integrated with Facebook, took a patent on a technique that will allow them to listen into all the phone calls of the 170 million users of Skype. This technique will most probably be used in cooperation with national security, but can also be used with advertisement and other services. For national security, techniques like this have already been in service since at least 40 years back in time with systems like ECHELON placed all over the world listening in on our regular phone calls, emails, faxes and sms.
Even some Internet Service Providers (the companies that delivers internet to you) have plans on using a technique that allow them to build up a profile of a person’s web surfing habits, and with that a profile of the person. This information will then in a first step be sold to advertisers. Already today is this information available to governments upon request.
In London the CCTV is a failure with only 1 out of 1000 crimes solved. But still they continue to use this system which allows them to have cameras on every street in the city. With these cameras the computers can use their facial recognition system to track a single person and even be notified when they enter or exit the city.
With people getting more and more obsessed with sharing all their experiences and thoughts online, the question is where this will stop. At the same time, a few people are starting to react and trying to do something about the situation. In May 2011 Facebook lost 7 million active users from USA and Canada. The social media networks are of course doing all they can to keep the members depending on their services, integrating more and more functions and merging web services with each other. An avarage of 10 000 new web sites integrate with Facebook every day. The next big step will be when we are having our bank accounts on Facebook and Google, which will allow them to track all our expenses.
Where will you set the line of giving away your privacy? Or are we entering a new era where privacy is not a concern anymore?
Footnote: If you are concerned about Internet privacy and security then I recommend you to use Private Internet Access which will encrypt all your traffic and making it virtually impossible to trace you or your communication online.