In the past few years, I’ve spent a fair bit of time learning and exploring applications and platforms to understand how these technologies are tackling their little niche. It can be easy to get swept away by it all because each new product/release always seems to solve a new problem (that you may or may not have been aware of). And many urge you to use an integrated sign in system with your existing Facebook or Twitter accounts. I admit, I’ve gone with the path of least resistance to quickly get my hands in the pie. Meanwhile, with each sign up, I’ve given another external source information about me. After six years of signing up for accounts, I’m pretty sure I’m drop-dead-easy to learn about and track. Even with nothing to hide, this is an unsettling feeling.

I found our discussion about privacy and surveillance fascinating today, as I never thought deeply about what this means – for me, fellow netizens, authoritative bodies, nor for society at large. We had lots of interesting case studies from Christopher Parsons and Kate about the interplay of our text and images on the web and notions of freedom, democracy, and the soul of this public space. Key takeaways for me: it is ultimately up to users to manage their content and to be aware of the privacy boundaries; nearly every input we make into the online world can be tracked, traced, and even held against you in legal situations; these privacy issues could have repercussions on a macro level, affecting how people interact and behave as a society; and finally, there are a lot of socially active people out there fighting the good fight.

A few things I did in the past couple of days as a result of our discussions, tweets, and chats:

  • Revisited the privacy sections of my social media sites with this handy link that takes you straight to that specific page: http://mypermissions.org/
  • Cleaned out the junk emails and subscriptions from my inbox: https://unsubscribr.com/
  • Turned off a whole bunch of geolocation data for apps on my phone

Participating in this community is an incredible thing, but it is a balancing act between sharing and maintaining some sense of privacy. If you have any other resources, post in my comments section!