Keeping it private is a call to privacy for everyone who may undergo conflict with a loved one or someone close. Keeping it private urges those who may share sensitive information to do their best to ensure that such information is secure and remains private. It is increasingly easier in the digital age to leak information and data that may be sensitive and damaging. The damage to the individual or business on the exposure of such information can be monetary, the infringement of intellectual property rights and trade secrets, and reputational damage. As such, all entities who interact with sensitive information and data should ensure that they put in place the right mechanisms to ensure confidentiality. Keeping it private should also protect against non-repudiation or the denial of the propagation or sending of a message.
On a personal level, keeping it private protects people who may have been in a relationship and then break up from undergoing harassment, social media bullying, or shaming in any way. Regrettably, the individuals will freely share sensitive information, including multimedia files such as images, audio, and video, much to the detriment of their privacy whilst in a relationship. The sharing of any embarrassing or sensitive data and multimedia is a huge risk as on breaking up with one’s partner; such information can be easily shared with malicious intent. The former partner may decide to share such information, multimedia files, and data as a way to vent or as a way to shame their former partner. We all must find ways to use technology privately and minimize the risk of disclosing private and sensitive information and data.
The advent of technology has meant that keeping anything private is increasingly harder as more social media networks or social networking sites emerge. All these work on an informational input basis where they encourage people to share their multimedia files and data to ‘interact’ or ‘share’ with others. Interacting and sharing sound good but cloak the intent to acquire and propagate mass information and data for monetary purposes. Many social media networks allege to be offering free services, but users bear the cost of being denied their own privacy. When you share profile information, the company will use it to create a profile of you without you knowing it.
The company may then sell this profile as a way to facilitate micro-targeting and advertising. Your user profile is constantly updated to reflect the changes in your life, such as going into parenthood, losing a baby, or falling ill. Such information is tied to your profile and sold to companies that will offer parenting products and also to big pharmaceuticals selling anti-depressants to deal with loss or medication for your condition. As we utilize social networking more and more, we are increasingly giving up our privacy, as the hidden cost of the use of social media and other technological services andproducts.
Keeping it private is not easy in the digital age. It is increasingly hard as there are more and more digital services and products. New social media networks are coming up each year, and our user data is increasingly sought and valuable to businesses and advertisers. An excellent example is the advent of TikTok, a video sharing service that has rivaled Instagram and Snapchat. TikTok has been marred by allegations of sharing personal user data or personally identifiable information with the communist government of China. You can imagine what an authoritarian government would do with data on billions of people, especially the youth.
TikTok was a major hit, especially among teenagers and the under-thirties. There are concerns that billions of TikTok users’ data could be relayed to China through a backdoor in TikTok’s systems. The lesson here is that we should all be cautious about what information we share with companies and especially technology companies. According to law, the information of anyone under 18 or even 13, for instance, should only be acquired after there is consent from an adult or guardian. Such laws and many others ensure that users’ privacy is protected, especially that of those under the legal age in numerous jurisdictions.
Keeping it private necessitates knowledge on how tech systems work and how to interact with software applications. We are increasingly using smartphones or mobile applications, for instance, without even reading the terms and conditions or privacy policies of the various companies providing digital products and services. The seeming ignorance could mean that we are increasingly sharing our data with dozens, if not hundreds of companies.
The shared data could then be input into data mining algorithms and systems, as part of business intelligence, to produce valuable and sellable user information. The sellable user information can then be sold to advertisers to allow for micro-targeting and user targeting as per their demographics and personal data. Read more on micro-targeting below.
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It may seem harmless and futile, but once you appreciate the scale of such data collection, then it becomes very alarming. When there is a computer breach, for instance, and millions of user-profiles are breached, these users’ data is stolen. There is the risk that such data could be used for identity theft or even to perform fraudulent transactions online. There is the risk that those whose data has been stolen would likely receive bills for things they have not bought or even be implicated in illegal online transactions or purchases, leading to legal trouble. As such, data is priceless, and we all need to instigate measures to protect ours.
On a personal level, please use encrypted messaging applications but also have precautions on what information you share. Even on an encrypted messaging platform, the one you send a message could easily store such information on their devices or even capture it through a screenshot, for instance. The unfortunate thing is that, on doing that, they work around the encryption and expose you, and the information shared, to disclosure and a privacy infringement. Therefore, as much as you secure your digital platforms, also be careful what you share online and who you share it with. Being cautious could protect one from harassment, online bullying, or blackmail.
A malicious individual could threaten to share sensitive information on social media or elsewhere. Such information could ruin one’s reputation or even expose them to a lot of scrutiny or shaming. Please take good care of how you use technology. Research on the best practices when using digital products and services, such as social media networks and applications. Taking precaution is always better than trying to mitigate a breach of privacy. Unfortunately, when the cat is out of the bag in terms of digital technology, it cannot be put back.