We’ve bonded deeply with the notion of Social Media. For all the complaints we have about individuals’ behaviors, we love (and need) the ability to connect with a higher volume network of friends, family and acquaintances. But the Social Networks we play in are not just portals and experiential places, they’re also products. Products are controlled by their owners. And though we should be the owners of our data and expression, we are not the owners of the portals.
We’ve been told that forfeiting control and privacy of our data is the cost of being on the internet. We’ve been told that if we want to be on the internet, we have to accept that our data will be used, manipulated and monetized. By entering, we consent. And we’re expected to be grateful for the “better”, “safer”, “easier” place we are enabling.
It is unreasonable to think that dissenting against this philosophy can match the power holders of this environment head on. It’s difficult to change the system’s behavior, but you can change your own. “You” are the only one you can reliably change. But whether or not you change your behaviors on the internet, it is important to know who is using your data, why it’s being used, and to what end your experience is being collected and utilized.
It’s important to remember that there is no real expectation of privacy when you transmit your expressions on social media. Privacy settings exist to keep individuals from abusing the information you want most protected on your social accounts. But the things you say and the pictures you post and the locations you check into are easily accessible. Not only are your expressions permanent but your routines and behaviors online are trackable by agents who have no obligation to identify themselves, how they’re using your information and if they’re functioning within local, national or international laws.