Some Thoughts on Online Privacy

Does online privacy matter to you? Sometimes it's hard to know what a site means when they talk about privacy and sharing your information. And sometimes those profile options have much bigger meaning than we realize.

In our real lives, the consequences of revealing more information than we wanted to are fairly limited. If we stand in the middle of our street in our underwear, screaming out details of our lives, only our neighbors notice. But when we're careless with our information online, the repercussions can be much different.

I volunteered to write this post because I found an article at Cult of Mac that I think illustrates what can happen if we're not careful about how we set up privacy settings in our online lives. It's a long piece, but it's worthwhile to read the whole thing. The link is here This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy [Update]. Go ahead. Read it. Read all the updates, too. We'll still be here :).

OK. Now that we're all scared, what can we do? I'm not on Facebook, so I've been pondering how I could possibly intelligently discuss Facebook's privacy options and how to set them. But when I reread that article, I saw that Cult of Mac did a follow-up how-to about privacy settings Stop Apps From Tracking You Without Your Knowledge Using Foursquare And Facebook [How-To]. There are probably other guides on the net if you don't like that one.

And when you sign up for a new site, think carefully about what information you want to give out. Do you really want to give out your real name? What about your location, email, jabber, or MSN messenger address? Can you leave those fields blank or opt that they not be displayed?

Final thought added by Carharttjimmy:

However, it is important to remember that data collection allows for a positive result. Sites are available to function with data supplied to them. And, sites such as facebook and twitter rely upon data collection to pay their bills. Its how they are able to provide free services just as Google provides a search engine based on ad revenue. And, its all free, no cost to you. The reason why it is free is because you are engaging in information trading, you trade your search data in exchange for a search result. You should decide carefully how much you wish to trade publicly with sites in exchange for free services.