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



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