AAC (Hi-Quality) (44k)
MP3 (56k | 128k)
Real Audio (56k | 128k)   Help
     
Feature
The Internet Peep Show
The Consequences of Content
by: Kumar Ravind

When you post the latest pictures of you and your friends drunk at a party on Facebook, who do you hope will see them? Friends, family, fellow drunken party-goers? Typically, when you post something to Facebook, there is an underlying assumption that the only people who would care are the people who are closest to you. And of course, there are some basic filters — you're mom doesn't need to see that picture of you passed out in a urinal, and your dad probably shouldn't know about the tattoo you picked up during your night in County lockup. Keeping mom and dad out of your digital life might be a simple task, but what about the rest of the internet? Have you taken the time to filter them out?

Whenever you post pictures of your latest bowel movement on Twitter, you are revealing yourself to a wide audience that most people seem to underestimate. Across the globe, every kind of creeper, stalker, pervert, and psychopath is waiting to pounce on any and all information they can get their hands on. Status updates on Facebook can reveal subtle details about your daily patterns. Combined with information found by combing through public Wall posts, tracking down someone on the internet can be as simple as a few simple searches on Google Maps. To make matters worse, there are now services that allow users to broadcast their exact location to Facebook, marking your position on the world for the entire internet audience to see. Planning on heading to Starbucks? With one quick click of a Facebook status update, not only can strangers see what you're planning on doing, but where it is you're planning on doing it.

But how do these creeps know who you are? Certainly, there is an air of anonymity that comes with certain services — masquerading as “Sexy_bunny_010900291” with that picture you stole off a softcore porno site seems innocent enough — but as the technology of social networking continues to advance, the ideal of anonymous networking is becoming a far more difficult to achieve. The result of this lack of understanding the concept of 'Social' networking is that users of social networks have left themselves open to all kinds of attacks. For instance, consider allowing 'Friends of Friends” as one of your privacy options on Facebook. What does that mean? Technically, if one of your friends happens to have befriended everyone in the group “Sociopaths of Orange County,” then those same people will be able to see your Facebook content.

That might seem like an extreme example, but considering how wide social networks can branch out, itís not altogether impossible. “Friends of Friends,” or “Friends and Networks,” both are far wider categories than most users realize. The UCI network itself has thousands of students. Of those thousands of students, how many do you want to be able to access your private photos, thoughts, and conversations with friends? Worse yet, what if a potential employer lurks among those users who have access to your page? Chances are that whatever you have on your Facebook is not the kind of thing you would want an employer to see.

Yet users still see fit to post just about anything to Facebook without thinking of the consequences of that content, much less who can access it. More than anything, it boils down to an issue of carelessness. No one seems to mind their daughters posting pictures of themselves half naked to Facebook, because only 'Friends' and 'Family' will be able to see it. But thanks to the branching that occurs naturally in Social Networks, those same risque pictures will often find their way out onto sites like 4chan, where they will be passed back and forth as fodder for sexual deviancy. Not exactly the best way to get famous, but to each their own.

In all seriousness, there has to be a change in the way that social network users understand the concept of simple privacy. The whole point of a social network is to allow others to connect to you, whether they know you directly or not. Therefore, in order to avoid being found by people who you don't want to know in the first place, a user has to break the social network by applying privacy filters that make it impossible to be found in the first place. Essentially, to prevent being exposed to the wide world of the internet, users have to learn to be anti-social on the social network.

It sounds stupid, but the alternative is plainly dangerous. As social networking applications continue to blossom, and users continue to allow these applications to access and broadcast personal data without any sort of filters, the internet will quickly become a place where personal information becomes as commonplace as rocks on a gravel road — all one would have to do is reach out and drag across the fibers of the internet to come away with all the data needed to track someone down right to their doorstep.

If that isn't enough, then just ask yourself — do you really want that old bald guy in your upper division writing course with bad breath and 8 front teeth to know what you wore to sleep last night? Somehow, it doesn't seem like the answer would be “yes.” So take the time to lock down your personal information, before someone else locks it down for you.

- -

It sounds stupid, but the alternative is plainly dangerous. As social networking applications continue to blossom, and users continue to allow these applications to access and broadcast personal data without any sort of filters, the internet will quickly become a place where personal information becomes as commonplace as rocks on a gravel road — all one would have to do is reach out and drag across the fibers of the internet to come away with all the data needed to track someone down right to their doorstep.

If that isn't enough, then just ask yourself — do you really want that old bald guy in your upper division writing course with bad breath and 8 front teeth to know what you wore to sleep last night? Somehow, it doesn't seem like the answer would be “yes.” So take the time to lock down your personal information, before someone else locks it down for you.
Share

 


[ Home | About KUCI | Contact | Alumni Pages | Photo Gallery | Schedule | CD Reviews | Listening Help | Articles | Hosts | Links ]

KUCI is brought to you by the University of California, Irvine