The internet has brought us access to more information than ever before in history, racking up a long list of positive additions to the daily human experience. Unfortunately though, access to information comes at a price; the web itself exists based only on the contributions of surfers, and you’re no different, especially with the rise of social media over the past decade.
Each and every time you contribute to the web in any way, your activity is recorded and saved for posterity, giving anyone who wishes to the ability to learn more about you than you likely know, all with the click of a button. Here are three areas of the web in particular that have contributed to the death of privacy:
It’s the world’s most popular search engine for a reason, and Google has access to far more than blogs that you contribute to and internet message forums that you post on. Compiling data from most every website connected to the public internet at large, Google has the ability to divulge a surprising amount of information about you with a simple search of your name or email address, especially if you’ve got a long history of internet use behind you.
Even if you don’t keep a blog or website yourself, running a test search on your name or email address is likely to reveal conversations that you don’t remember having and contributions that you don’t remember making, putting you at risk if someone with an agenda were to find something that displeased them. Sites like Person Lookup collect and aggregate all that information
No matter what you do on the web, always remember that Google knows it, and is happy to share it with anyone, anywhere in the world, today and forever. In other words, think before you speak – or type. Or upload.
2. Social Media
Definitely ranking as the biggest factor in the death of privacy that the internet age has brought about is social media. Websites like Facebook beckon us to divulge everything from our name, date of birth, and place of residence, to what we had for lunch, what bar we’re attending on the weekend, and what sports teams we like best. Not only does this all add up to a tremendous amount of personal information, but it’s all easily accessible via one or two social profiles set up around the web, making the act of investigating who we are, how we behave, and where we frequent a simple thing for anyone from friends to enemies, and from potential mates to potential employers.
In order to take advantage of the many good things that social media offers us without getting into trouble, now or in the future, be careful to include only information in your profiles that you’re entirely comfortable with sharing with the world at large.
As the internet continues to evolve, more and more of us are jumping online with endeavors of our own, and this had lead to many millions of average people buying and using domain names. This is a great thing where contribution to the information contained in the web as a whole is concerned, but it also exposes you to the world in a unique – and potentially troubling – way.
Anyway who registers a unique domain name instantly has their information made public via a simple search, called a WHOIS lookup. This kind of search can be freely performed all over the web, and this means that it will take an average internet surfer five minutes or less to determine the name and address of the owner of any given website – yours included.
Now, if you maintain a blog that showcases only the odd family photo, this may not be of particular concern to you. On the other hand, if you use your website or blog to host your opinions on sensitive topics, or to indulge in a interest that is potentially offensive to others, you may not be so keen on just anyone – such as prospective employers – being able to associate your real life identity with your online identity.
To avoid this problem, many domain registrars do offer a privacy option when it comes to WHOIS searches, at a price.