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Is Online Privacy Dead?

Online privacy is something that most of us are worried about irrespective of whether we spend a lot of time on the internet or not. The reason for this is that internet and our lives are so intertwined that we literally cannot live without it. Even if you don’t use social media accounts, you will have an e-mail ID, an online banking account, an IM account, etc. All these are treasure troves of information in case someone wants to gain personal information about you. Even if you are totally against the internet, the people around you (friends, colleagues and relatives) will inadvertently leak out some info about you. For example, take the example of some party pictures posted on a social networking site. If you are not on the site as a member also, your face will be on the internet, most probably tagged with your name or the nickname your family has for you.

 

Exhibitionist Environment The Reason Behind Decline of Online Privacy?

 

A human psychology expert, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that more and more people are getting afflicted by the exhibitionist bug. According to that expert, the exhibitionist bug is something where people want to display what they are doing at every instant of time to their friends, relatives and even acquaintances. This started out as simply sharing your personal information. But over time, this has evolved into flaunting. For example, if you are having dinner in an exclusive restaurant or diner, you tend to tweet about it or check in using your Facebook account. Some people update their statuses so regularly that you can literally map that person’s daily activity over a period of time and with proper study, you can even predict the future course of action over a period of time.

 

Technology, One of the Factors for the Decline of Privacy

 

There was a time when hackers spent hours together gathering information on potential targets and analyzing it. However, that is gone now. Today’s hackers use algorithms which automatically track information from the profile of interest. For example, you can create a program that can read the Facebook status of a single profile or a number of profiles and relay it through a number of different means. This algorithm can be planted on the victim’s computer through a number of ways such as an add-on toolbar, simple software or even through an anonymous social media account. Researchers have also unearthed malicious code that can read thousands of tweets at a time. There is also another example of how a piece of code can be programmed to change the settings of the social media accounts of the victims in such a way that their posts can be seen by the general public. Most users do not notice this and the users will be under the impression that their posts go only to the people who they have opted for. On the contrary, without any actual hacking, hackers are violating the privacy of unsuspecting users by using the information provided by the victim himself/herself.

 

Facebook, The Reason for Rapid Downfall of Privacy?

 

When Facebook’s popularity started rising, some of the experts were apprehensive about the privacy issues it could raise. But at time, most people did not even have the faintest idea of how online privacy could be compromised. But Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has a different take on this. He said that just like other norms and rules evolve, privacy norms and rules will also evolve in a way such that Facebook cannot be exploited by hackers to compromise online security.

 

All we can infer at this point of time is that privacy is not what it seemed to be a few years ago. Before, people liked to keep information like their partners or where they were working, amongst their close circle of friends. However, things have changed now and probably, they will in the coming years too. So, online privacy might not be dead as we have presumed but we will have to wait and see. Zuckerberg might be right after all.

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