Social media and your privacy: Not Safe Anymore?

Social media is fun to use. You can share a lot of things with people around the world with just a few clicks. You can share more things with friends closer to you. Your name, date of birth, where you live, who your friends are etc. A lot of information. So much information, that you can tell where a person is at that moment, just based on the information on your social profile.

New Social media Application: NSA
And that’s something one organization knows what to do with it: the NSA. So what can the NSA do? Well, a lot of things:
– Read your emails? Sure.
– Listen while you Skype with someone? I’m on it.
– Need an extra like on your photo on Facebook? NSA can give his opinion.
– Do you feel alone when you browse the Internet? Not anymore thanks to NSA!
– Worried about losing data on your smartphone? NSA makes a backup for you!

It’s actually worrisome how much possibilities the NSA has. Your personal life is all stored in the datacenter of the NSA. We all assume that this is securely stored in the servers of the NSA. With all these smart people there, you would think that they would have the best security in there. Except for one. And that’s this guy.

Edward Snowden. Without him, we wouldn’t even know the existence of PRISM, the program to track shady people on the world. He still have information with him, that is not released yet.

Not only the NSA
But enough about the NSA. Because without the NSA, your privacy still isn’t save. Cookies are small pieces of data stored on your computer when you are browsing the Internet. They can collect your browsing behavior, in order to ‘enhance the experience on the Internet‘. I mean, there is no other way they can remember your searches and clicks on their website.

All those fun apps you install on your smartphone. Have you ever actually looked what these apps can do? When you download an app on the Google Play Store, it shows what permissions it need to function. But certain apps, like some games, need to read your call log for example. Why does a game need to know who called me or who I’ve called?

Privacy and security
When you store data on the internet and social media applications, you assume they’re safe, unless someone knows your password. So the first thing you need to do is create a strong password. This story gives a good example how to create a strong password that is also easy to remember.
But a strong password is not enough. The other side (the website) needs to store it securely. Unfortunately, that’s often a problem.

To enhance the security further, you can opt for ‘Two-step authentication‘. It works like this: you have a password for a website that supports ‘Two-step authentication’. You also need a smartphone that supports the ‘Two-step authentication‘ app (in this example Android phone users). When you log in to that website, it asks you to enter the 6-digit code that’s generated by the app on your smartphone. That way, even though your password has been compromised, the thieves still need the 6 digit-code generated on your smartphone. Websites that supports ‘Two-step authentication’ are for example Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Dropbox and Twitter. I highly recommend to use ‘Two-step authentication’.

Do you value your privacy?
Friends of mine always ask why I protect my smartphone, have such a strong password and double the security on my devices. The answer is very simple: I just don’t like people that mess with my data without my permission. It also gives them too much power when they have access to my information. Yes, they can use it just for fun, but there are some cases where it is done for revenge.

When I ask them why they don’t protect their smartphones etc, one friend replied with:

I don’t care, they can know everything about me. I have no secrets to hide.

So in return, I asked him to give his PIN-code of his bank account. He didn’t give it to me, because it’s private. Funny, right?

So what about you? Do you value your privacy? Do you mind what the NSA is doing? Do you also change your behavior, due to the abilities of the NSA? And do you protect your privacy (as in a secure smartphone, laptop, login)?

All sources are hidden in the text as URL’s. The same goes for images. When you click on an image, it will redirect you to the original source. Meanwhile, the NSA has collected valuable information about you.


4 thoughts on “Social media and your privacy: Not Safe Anymore?

  1. I have read a lot about the NSA lately and NSA probably about me.
    I do value my privacy but I was not as well prepared as you were. Usually when I have to come up with a password, the site usually says in green letters it’s a ‘strong’ password, so that makes me a little more comfortable.

    About the activities of the NSA, I fully understand why they have to do it. But just because they do it in secret, I think most people feel a kind of betrayed.
    For a couple of years now, it surprises me that there is still no clear and good legislation about life on the internet. If there would be clear legislation about life on the internet – also regarding the practices of the NSA – then people can live in a way that they like within these laws.

    I do not change my behavior due to the abilities of the NSA. Though when T. Li said she could see how much time we need for posting a message, I decided to type them in Microsoft Word;)

  2. Nice post, because privacy in this times is a very hot topic with all the electronic devices where we use a lot of internet and social media. And as you said, we all have to accept (or not) whether we want the website to use cookies. So it remembers our behavior on the world wide web; what we saw and what we like (e.g. that beautiful dress or a car we looked for) and the website shows it at its page.

    I wonder if, in this times of electronic devices, we actually can speak of ‘privacy’. The gives me the next definition of privacy: The quality or condition of being secluded from the presence or view of others. Isn’t that just the case? We are not secluded from the presence of others, because anyone can see where we live, how old we are, what we do, what we like and what interest we have, where we work and so forth on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Of course, we reveal those details ourselves, but things like cookies are actually not what we want but we just accept the question if the website want the use them, because most of the times it says that the website ‘better works’. But do we actually know what we accept when we push that ‘accept’ button?

  3. After I had read the article I became little bit nervous and concerned about some really confidential information on my iPhone, but few minutes later I understood that I was not a very ‘big fish’ to be observed by somebody. Probably, I just assure myself about this fact. As my rational part of the brain says: “The NSA is made for detecting danger and for providing security to all of us”, while the second part is marvelled: “Just imagine, dude, some FBI officers know where you are and hear that you’re typing this post”. That makes me feel uncomfortable, but I am sure it is the choice of OURS!

    So, the statement of Mr. Snowden was not surprise for me at all. Every human should consider the fact of being a ‘target’ if they enter this web-world! Once you buy phone, smartphone, PC or laptop, you become a victim of a huge interconnected complicated system. Especially if you try to inform people about literally your each step, inhalation and location using text, photo, video etc. The appearance of Web 2.0 made our virtual world more interesting as we began to be both authors and readers, creators and audience. However, we were so involved that forgot to read some privacy policies joining new sites/forums/networks, we forgot that there is the third part! Now it’s time to complain, isn’t it? I am not sure. It was your choice!

    To sum up, trying to inform a lot of people about your age, gender, location and plenty of different things and be afraid/complain about badly secured data seems to be insanity. Or at least, it is self-contradiction inside of each of us which we should scrutinize!

    I hope to hear some criticism from you or just maybe your contrast or common opinion.

    • To sum up, trying to inform a lot of people about your age, gender, location and plenty of different things and be afraid/complain about badly secured data seems to be insanity. Or at least, it is self-contradiction inside of each of us which we should scrutinize!

      Perhaps you’re right from a certain point of view. Yes, it contradicts yourself when you openly publish your information, but at the same time applying a high level of security.

      When you publish your information, you only want it to be visible for a certain amount of people. Your friends for example and the people you know / the people close to you. The NSA has now access to all your information at the moment, but ensuring all the people in the world that it is stored securely. But every man may meet his match, and that’s what I’m afraid of. There are a lot of attempts to gain access to valuable information of the United States. While not every attempt was succesful, some were. If your information stored by the NSA would be leaked into the worldwide web, how would you react? Every detail, every conversation, every secret you’ve hidden from us, it will be public. The result would be devastating.

      But even though all the above seem very scary, I still continue ‘my life’ on the Internet. You can try to hide from every possible threat on your privacy, but is that how you want to live? Take Snowden for example. By being a whistleblower, he had to sacrifice everything he had. His family, girlfriend, job in Hawaii and most important of all: his freedom to live. While he might be safe today in Russia, tomorrow could be another story.

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