There’s no such thing as Internet privacy

A few days ago, CNN ran a Jeanne Meserve report on Internet privacy. It was brief and superficial and concluded with the obvious warning that every time you hit send or enter, your information is launched into the infinity of cyberspace. Forget privacy. Anything you put out there, anywhere, can be found by someone with enough know-how and determination. Odds are you’ll be of little interest to anyone, but you never know.

The report told of a woman who had posted pictures of her kids on a social website. Somebody copied those pictures and they turned up on a child porn site. Sad story, but anyone smart enough to be on a computer knows how to copy a picture.

I’ve heard far too many stories of people whose friends, family, rivals, or employers have stumbled across or sought out their online information. The results can be anger, hurt feelings, embarrassment, or worse. Damaged personal relationships, lost friends, abandoned websites, stolen identities, and even lost jobs. (You may have seen the recent story about a teacher who was fired when her employer saw her vacation pictures online, pictures that showed her holding drinks.)

I am dumbfounded when I see so many people rushing to put every detail about themselves on blogs, social websites, Twitter, etc. Why would they leave themselves open to the kinds of abuses that can happen? I’m sure I err on the side of caution (or paranoia), but I thought common sense was supposed to be pretty … common. Does it not occur to people that — no, apparently it doesn’t.

Furthermore, once something is committed to the Internet, it can be out there for a very long time. Delete your website, take down your blog. Doesn’t matter. If Google, for example, ever found it, it can remain in Google’s cache for months. If anyone copied or reposted your stuff, it’s beyond your reach. And, of course, archiving sites exist for no other purpose than to save information for future generations of Internet explorers. Consider whether you’ll want today’s posts and pictures around ten years from now.

That’s all. Just be aware. And make your kids aware, too. Their technological savvy far surpasses their emotional maturity.



2 thoughts on “There’s no such thing as Internet privacy

  1. I know that every single thing you wrote here is true and yet I am that idiot putting it all out there. You know my blog is more of a personal nature- shit, I’m “moody” and it shows- but there are times I just wanna scrap it all and I wonder why put it out there? Sadly, I have a friend whose child’s pic ended up on a porn site too- she didn’t blog or FB, it was her own personal family website. So sad. Reading all this makes me want to delete- delete- delete.
    There’s a fine line between doing what we want and having fun with it, or being a bit more cautious and having a bit less fun, like learning to get by without posting pics of the kids, or mentioning exactly where we live or the kids go to school. That kind of thing. Frankly I’m having a blast with my blog. I just haven’t put out my real name and address. Family would recognize me immediately. I rather doubt anyone else would.

  2. I don’t have kids yet, but when I do I don’t think I will be posting their photos on the internet. That just sounds dangerous. I usually don’t even post photos of other people unless I ask for their permission first.
    Same with my grandkids. I don’t want to post anything that might identify them to a predator, either online or locally.

... and that's my two cents