Privacy in the Digital Age
Updated: Apr 16
Here I'll explore some of the issues and concerns surrounding the use of social networking and media tools. Below are some of the resources I considered when contemplating this issue:
Digitally networked public spaces are something Boyd talked about and it made me think about how people gather in public forums like town squares, parks, etc. and talk loudly about their thoughts, but those thoughts are not necessarily recorded so there's an extra level of "privacy" in that type of public space. Participation online is public by default and private by choice, so you have to be conscious of what image you're projecting about yourself. Young people online are using strategies like compartmentalizing their lives, creating different accounts for family and friends.
Data permanence (mentioned in the video and NPR article) is a huge issue because people don't realize how easy it is to dig up information on someone from their past since platforms do not always allow you to delete your data. Especially if you created an account with an old email address which you cannot access anymore (does AOL even exist still? haha) Putting things out online can reach many people but might not always be the thing you want to get out and spread. People don't want to hear about your serious concerns, as Boyd brought up. Anything negative you put out there online spreads so much faster and is so much more permanent than the information you actually want people to know about you. I was surprised to hear that the average blog gets only 6 readers (discouraging). You have to navigate your "invisible audience" and sometimes you don't even reach your target audience but you get the attention of those who might be counterproductive to your community.
Memes are an awesome form of steganography- "hiding in plain sight." And I think it's extremely smart what young people are doing with memes because this is a way to communicate the most information possible by using the least number of words possible. As Boyd indicated, It's historically a tactic of oppressed populations and it's incredibly smart. New ways of communication are always fascinating, and the mention of steganography really caught my attention. Adults have a tendency to demean, demonize, and undermine the ideas of young people so it makes sense that teens create their own "languages" that disclude adults as much as possible.
Personally, I have been leaning away from the use of social media and the only digital culture I participate in is for school or work. I want to encourage people to know me but not just on a surface level. That's part of the reason why I created this personalized website that doesn't rely on a typical social media platform. I guess I have a distrust of large social media sites because I have always assumed that they were mining our data. Maybe that is the mentality of a younger generation because in 2016 millions of people were recently duped into allowing an app to access their Facebook data and then that was used for nefarious purposes, as I'm sure most of us are aware by now. I have to assume that a large majority of those individuals were over the age of 40, and did not grow up around technology and did not go through the trials and tribulations of the early internet as much as the younger generations have. Facebook became pretty unpopular recently, even before the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and let's be honest- once all our parents joined Facebook we all stopped using it even if we didn't delete our profiles. There is something called "doxxing" which is used frequently and is widely known about with the younger crowds but older generations just don't understand that people can and want to gather information about you. You have to be extra wary when an app asks you to accept their terms of service. If you don't read the terms of service, it's kind of your fault for volunteering your data at that point.