Privacy no more

Social media applications have kicked the value of personal privacy to the curb.

Meghan O'Connor


Our devices have become cluttered with an array of social media platforms. So, it’s no surprise that the social media industry has boomed, releasing new applications in hopes of being the next hit thing.

However, in an attempt to get a new application onto the screen of the public, entrepreneurs seem to be skimping on the privacy settings of these applications just to get ahead.

If I’m allowing an app to be on my phone and to access my information, I want to trust that it will do what it says it will and nothing more.

EyeEm, a free photography application that is similar to Instagram in offering photo filters and easy posting abilities, has allowed for an easy set-up by way of a person’s Facebook account. This is no shocker; many new applications are now using this method. But what new users don’t realize is that by allowing EyeEm to post their photography on their Facebook page, it also allows for friends to see what the user was viewing.

Meaning, that any photograph you clicked on in EyeEm is now public knowledge.

That occasional impulse click of your mouse, and suddenly you’re tainting your mother’s news feed with your “impulses.”

All the fuss could be avoided by simply registering by using an email address, but who wants to spend the extra five minutes doing that?

Path, another photo sharing application, has recently run into issues by revealing the location of its users even if they check the “location off” button within the application itself.

One minute you’re posting an artsy photo of the underground indie music festival you’re at, and the next minute your stalker is walking in the door scouring the room for you. Path told them where you were.

The Federal Trade Commission stepped in when this news was released and is holding Path to pay $800,000 for violating the privacy of consumers.

Headline after headline, I read news of applications like WhatsApp messenger that accesses users’ contact lists and keeps hold of the data. Last summer the LinkedIn mobile application was reported for taking meeting information from people’s iPhones and iPads and storing the information in LinkedIn servers.

Privacy disclosure is lacking in the creation of these applications, and the privacy settings they do accommodate can be increasingly misleading for the user. It is because of these social media sources that the lines of privacy have become blurred.

I understand that the topics one chooses to disclose on the Internet have grown. What one used to consider personal information may now be a post on a Facebook “wall” or a tweet. We have become accustomed to making our lives public. But it should still be up to each person to decide what information is released and what remains private.

These companies, whether they intended to, pulled information from their consumers and made it content for the eyes of the public without consent.

This is my point. Whether social media exists, and whether we choose to post personal information on our web pages, we should still be entitled to our privacy where we see fit. It should not be in the hands of application creators or corporations.

As consumers we should be comfortable downloading applications onto our devices without the fear that our privacy will be invaded in the process.