A few months earlier, I read numerous news articles regarding the Facebook personal data scandal. This scandal deals with a case where Cambridge Analytica, a UK based data firm which ties with President Donald Trump’s campaign, accessed as much as eighty-seven million Facebook user data without their knowledge. This data collected were used for election meddling in 2016 US election. It is reported that Facebook handed over the information for only research purposes and was not aware of campaign intervention. Yet, Facebook is being severely criticized over the fact that they failed to protect user data. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook creator and CEO, is constantly apologizing for his irresponsibility. After this scandal, awareness of the possibility of personal data manipulation has exponentially risen. Questions regarding the access of personal data with such ease are getting tense, further going into a chance of surveillance through internet.
Constantly using the internet, I have experienced some frightening moments of internet surveillance. The most frequently occurring situation is becoming the target of advertising. If I search a certain item, a list of advertisements of related items pop up on my Facebook page, search engines, Instagram, and much more. It takes only one search for this to happen. This phenomenon is only a basic step for realization of my personal information surveillance. Another example that I have experienced is account hacking. My first Instagram account was made when I was in high school. Due to time constraint, I did not use it for a long time. One day, my friend told me that my account was hacked. She wanted to tag me on one of her posts so she searched my account and found my account full of pornography. I was so surprised and deleted it and had to worry about all the personal information that I have provided when creating the account. Nothing special happened after the incident but I still do not feel relieved.
The Facebook scandal and the reading material reminded me of my experiences mentioned above. I believe that not only myself but almost everyone is living in a world of infinite anxiety of unwanted exposal. If this is the case why do we release our information on internet? Internet penetrated too deeply into our lives. There is barely anything that we can do without the internet. As university students, we have to gather knowledge and evidence through internet, submit assignments through internet, and even take classes through e-learning courses. Also, we pay tuition fees through internet banking and buy books through internet shopping malls. To mention all of the activities done using the internet, I will have to use more than fifty pages. This profound penetration is now making internet an inevitable factor for us.
Although we know that uploading personal information on the internet is dangerous, continuous use of it makes us senseless about the danger. Personally, I believe that blaming the firms using our information is no use. Since their first and foremost goal is to make profits, they will continue to collect our data one way or the other. The most important thing, therefore, is to not lose consciousness about the potential danger that internet holds. We have to stay alert and always think before providing information. Maybe become a little closed person when dealing with internet. In an era of internet dominated world, we have to learn how to protect ourselves.
Previously published on Digmedia.lucdh.nl.
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