The Public World of Privacy

Each day we open the internet, use its platforms and tools, and immerse ourselves into the digitally seamless world, we become less and less private. Should we be worried? Or, is okay because it has been normalized by society? We can begin answering to this dilemma by reflecting on what we use in a day and what it asks of us.

I’ll go first.

8:00 AM

Source: Microsoft 365. Microsoft Outlook

Like most students, professionals, and others alike do, I start my (digital) day in my email. Whether from my phone, tablet, or computer, Microsoft Outlook is my go-to software for all my email and cloud storage needs. Starting an account does not take much, but Microsoft 365 does ask for you to have a license with a school, company, or other organization for commercial use rights. With this, they may get more access to your information through that network.

On the privacy level, they really only ever need your phone number and (possibly) an additional email address for password recovery. Exposure is minimal, aside from the software housing the entirety of where many Americans’ most private information is stored.

11:00 AM

This is my own snapshot of my “all media, no social” social media, Pinterest. It is a combination of photos, videos, links, and blogs from users all over the world. Pinterest is entirely algorithm based and asks you what “pins” to follow when you sign up. As you save pins and create boards, you get recommended similar media on your home page. Personally, I do not upload or create my own media onto Pinterest so I have less concern for privacy in that regard.

Pinterest also features ads in their feed, as shown above. They gather information from cookies in my search sites. As you can see, I have been on Home Depot‘s website quite a bit recently during our home renovation and it has communicated and shared that information across any site possible.

4:00 PM

Here we have my afternoon of YouTube, where visual media grows quicker than anywhere else on the internet. If you are logged in as I am, you will get recommended videos and ads based on previous searches and browser data. YouTube operates under the Google umbrella and requires a gmail for account creation. It also asks your age and location. Because it is within an extremely connected network of sites and programs, it is likely that information from the site is being shared all throughout its web of data.

I have always kept my online presence very minimal, so concern for privacy has never been at the forefront of my mind. I always assumed the bigger, more known sites were safer – why else would everyone be using them? Never did I understand why my information was special, or more accessible. Now that I am older, I see the way just enough personal information can get somewhere if placed in the wrong hands. I feel that my current use of online systems is okay. It does appear that I could be even more mindful of what I let travel via email, as that is only as safe as the next.

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