Online Privacy is Overrated

online-privacyIt seems like everyday a new article comes out decrying the lack of privacy online. On the surface, it seems like something to be truly concerned about. However, after a closer look you begin to realize that we have it pretty good. It’s time to be done with the hysteria.

Reality Check

Everyday we all enjoy free services at the extremely low cost of “some of our personal information”. Take Facebook for example. Facebook offers a number of services to us and asks nothing of direct monetary value in return. I, for one, use it to organize my photos, keep in touch with friends and organize events and the only thing I have ever had to “pay” in return was a couple strings of text indicating who I am. And yes, Facebook has access to my photos and status updates but it’s not as creepy as you think. Contrary to popular belief, Facebook does not give out your information to all of the rapists and murders in the world. It also doesn’t ask that you provide information such as your address, phone number or when your doors are left unlocked (you can post that info if you want but it is discretionary).

View the article that inspired this rant: Online Privacy is Overrated

The point is, we are all getting a great deal. How many of you would continue to use Facebook if it suddenly cost $59.99/month? Most people don’t think of it that way, but when presented with the alternative of paying cold hard cash, they are more than willing to divulge what their favourite TV show is. It’s absolutely painless to divulge this information with very few downsides. Some people consider targeted advertising a downside. I have no idea why. Another reality check: you will be subjected to advertising. It’s a fact. So why not see advertising that is applicable to you? It’s easy to ignore and hey, if you happen to be in the market for that particular product or service, it just saved you some research time. Not to mention ad personalization will save us guys from being subjected to tampon ads everywhere we go and women get to avoid those “meet sexy lolitas” ads. Win-win-win.

The other angle of hysteria perpetuated by the media is the idea of being watched or followed. The idea that with your personal information online everyone knows where you are always – good old fashioned conspiracy theories to boot. A brilliant piece of knowledge I obtained many years ago goes as follows:

No one cares about you as much as you think they do

It sounds super depressing but what it means is that you may think that everyone is always watching you, judging you and trying to get a piece of you, while in reality most of them really couldn’t care less. The government is not after you (and if they are then you are probably a criminal and deserve the attention) and neither is anyone else. No one is going to hack your account randomly to find your children’s photos, so they can somehow track down where they are. It’s preposterous. If your children are unsafe, it’s because the neighbour you thought was so nice turns out to be a creep. They’ll just walk across the lawn and say “hi” after school.

Your family and close friends may care about your personal details (and that’s not creepy), but no one else does. Everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves and their own family and friends.

So what are you hiding from? Keep your financial data close at hand and lend it out to only the most reputable of sites. Other than that, share and reap the rewards.

 

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Side note: even credit card information is relatively safe. In the event that your information is stolen, you are completely protected and the credit card company will reimburse you. Cash, on the other hand, is gone forever if lost or stolen.

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