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Facebook, Google and the death of online privacy [Infographic]

I’ve come to the conclusion that online privacy is pretty much dead. Remember the early days of the internet, where everyone used fake names or nicknames and didn’t enter their real location because there were creepy people out there in cyberspace that you were supposed to hide from?

Then along came Facebook, which wasn’t interested in your pseudonym: it wanted your real name and birthdate, please. Twitter defaults to public profiles and Google has now gone and shared pretty much everything you’ve ever told one of its services with the rest of the Google family. Add cookies, IP addresses, tracking share buttons and location-based sharing to the mix, and it’s a wonder the creepy people haven’t found you yet.

While all this tracking is useful if you’d like to see targeted ads (haha), as this infographic shows, it’s also pretty scary — whether you’re doing something illegal or just feel like your every activity shouldn’t be recorded.

It says that 10% of consumers in the US have been victims of identity theft, that phishing is costing consumers billions every year and that there is very little users can do if they don’t like a site’s new privacy policy. If you’re not too impressed with Google’s privacy changes, or don’t really want Facebook Timeline to broadcast your date of birth to everyone from your granny to the local axe murderer, your only real option is to leave. But these services have probably become so ingrained in your life that you don’t want to leave — and even if you can, your data may remain on some distant server for the next few years anyway.

Facebook and Google are undergoing privacy audits for the next 20 years — Facebook for failing to tell users how they collect and share their information and Google for integrating Google Buzz into Gmail without users’ consent. Now, I don’t know about you, but does that sound like the type of company you’d like to have access to everything from your current location to your latest status update? Consumers often aren’t given extensive options to control what information they share with these websites or other internet users — and some users don’t check their privacy settings at all.

Moral of the story: sorry to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but you’re probably going to be tracked. You can, however, influence how much information is stored by thinking before you fill in a form online or click a button.  But are you really going to read a lengthy privacy policy before you click “Accept”?


Infographic courtesy of frugaldad.com

Author | Lauren Granger

Lauren Granger
While studying towards her Bachelor of Journalism degree at Rhodes University, Lauren gave into her fascination with everything digital. As she was more interested in creeping tech sites and Twitter than she was in picking up one of those printed things called 'newspapers', she decided to specialise in... More
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  • Excellent article, memeburn!

    I too have posted, in my blog, about Google’s insistence on real names. There are numerous valid reasons for needing to use a pseudonym. The bottom line, to me, is that Google can collect our real names (and other data) without forcing us to display our real names publicly. That’s just being heavy-handed!

    The 2 posts on this topic are called: “Google Plus Requirement for Real Names” and “Google and YouTube: Too Big for Their Britches”. They’re in the Science and Technology section, near the bottom of the home page. I’m not sure if it’s kosher to post my website URL, so I’ll just say you can find these blog posts at AtheistExile dot com.

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  • Man in the Krowd

    More people need to be made aware of this stuff….we are walking into an online open forum where what’s ours is theirs and whats theirs is their own. Big business need curtailing…the only way forward is to come up with an alternative, because i agree that its too late for the internet – its been defined and we pay for its use with our privacy now.

  • Garvin

    My superhero’s name is Blaze. He has the ability to erupt into flames and throw fiery projectiles. He is awesome because he is untouchable, literally. Touch him and you’ll burn! He can turn into flames and disappear in the smoke, teleporting to wherever he pleases.

  • Jacques Coetzee

    It was a real tough call but Matt won this one, Garvin. Better luck next time :)

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