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Your Secrets Are Safe With Facebook, Gmail & iPhone 8...Not Exactly.

Here's What's Goin' On

If online privacy is something you care about—whether that be just yourself, or your friends and family—I have some information to share with you about some great sites we love to visit. I’m going to be cut and dry with this: we’re being watched, everywhere. By now, most people know that just about everything they do online can be tracked, recorded and archived. We’re even being watched on the street, practically everywhere we go. Incredible, right? But I’m not sure we all realize that every single word we type or write on an online server—words we erase are saved and archived. The same concept applies to Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Facebook and What You Don't Post

In 2013 a Facebook intern and employee did a paper for Carnegie Melon on how Facebook asked them to review posts that were created but not published. Apparently, they wanted to have this information in an effort to figure out why people wrote and decided not to post. The term used was "thought better of". Turns out that men, more often than women, decide not to post a comment after thinking about it.  And younger users decided not to hit post way more than older people.  So what does that say about older female Facebook users? But, here's the real point of this study and what it tells us. What you TYPE ON FACEBOOK stays ON Facebook's Servers.  "The code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed--even if you decide not to publish it.” You can read the detail in an article in Slate (see link in references). And here's the thing, it's not like Facebook is trying to deceive anyone. It's just that most of us don't make it a point to actually read the all-too-long and way too lawyer-esque Privacy Policies. Facebook’s Privacy Policy says this: “We collect the content and other information you provide when you use our Services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others. This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our Services, such as the types of content you view or engage with or the frequency and duration of your activities.” Did you catch “create or share”? So now the question is,  "What exactly is happening to the posts that you write or "create" but delete and don't "share". Honestly, I don't know how long it's saved or exactly how it's archived, but what I do know is that I want everyone to be aware that what they type and delete, isn't actually deleted. Fortunately, what you post and what you write before you post is under your control.

Is It Time to Say “No Paparazzi Please”?

Perhaps if you don't want to be tracked by your pictures.   It can be done through Facial Recognition software and it's no longer a futuristic concept. Your identity, that gorgeous, beautiful face that belongs only to you--is also being archived on servers.  And it's not just your face, it's your face and everywhere it goes and every one it's with and any comments you happen to make along with that shot--it all has the potential to be saved. I wrote about how Facebook's tagging feature maybe selling you out, and now perhaps you've heard the rumors about the new iPhone 8? Some say Apple will be replacing touch ID with facial recognition to unlock your phone. What’s even scarier…"Apple’s facial recognition technique captures more data points than a fingerprint scan.” That’s a lot of very personal data that could become VERY public. We make decisions every day about trading convenience for privacy. But, many people don’t know what they are potentially exposing themselves.

Tell Me More About Those Surveillance Cameras...

Not to mention… Street cameras. They capture everything. It's a great idea for catching criminals but not so great for the rest of us. I remember watching a particular police-state episode of The Twilight Zone in the 80’s. It grabbed my heart, it was so sad. It foretold of a time when drones were everywhere and if you said or did anything that wasn't "correct," you'd get this sort of technological Scarlet R that meant you’d be ignored or deemed invisible. Anytime The Invisible Man as this segment was titled, talked to anyone, these police drones would instantly appear and warn others not to talk to him. Can you imagine?  And what happens when the "futuristic" government starts using this type of surveillance for regulatory purposes? Watch and see--I've got a link to the episode below.

What Does All this Hold for the Future of Our Children?

Hard to Know. We're in uncharted territory when it comes to kids growing up and entering adulthood with an entire dossier of their life digitally collected and potentially exposed.  Between Gmail recording every typed (or erased) word, Facebook saving all posts and doing who knows what with posts that are written, but not published, and the ability to instantly see where they've been and who they are with via facial recognition. Now add to that all the information that's saved online, Report Cards, Little League stats, family photos and events shared on parents social pages, etc. So, so much information. Missteps, rites of passage,  potentially damaging words said to a child or about them or by them in an online server environment, all have the potential to be recorded, saved and archived and then reviewed, Of course, there are laws designed to protect kids and adults from dissemination of this information.  But, what if those laws change?  What if those laws are broken? For now, we just need to be aware and exercise a few privacy options we have online.

Here are some tips:

  1. Instead of typing your drafts of posts on servers, try writing your thoughts on a piece of paper or on a word document so that at least "draft" data cannot be accessed.
  2. Keep all of your social accounts on PRIVATE and make sure tagging features are disabled. Make sure your kids aren’t posting publicly on social media. Children's accounts should be private and password protected.
  3. Print or personally share photos instead of posting them online.
  4. Keep it simple - facial recognition and fingerprints might be cool shortcuts, but they aren’t really necessary! It’ll only take you a couple more seconds every day to type your password instead of programming your personal information into your device to unlock it. 
  5. Be extra stealth and the one who looks like they know exactly what they're doing when it comes to privacy--we're talking about our Creepblockers. Your privacy, and your childs privacy is worth it! They're simple, stylish, and really effective. 

For more tips, check out How to Keep a Webcam and Microphone From Spying and iPhone Privacy Tips.

xo August


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