Is there such a thing as privacy online?

A very good question. The ability of people to access your personal information is quite intimidating actually. gives us this short video which talks about Facebook, among other things, and asks the question: Is it right for someone to be able to access your personal information online?

I can see both sides of the argument. Social networking sites do allow us to reach out globally and stay in contact with people we rarely see, have never met, or are part of our PLN. They also expose us to people we may not want to allow access to personal information. I had to chuckle when I watched the video called Facebook in Reality … It makes you realize that we do so much more online that we would ever imagine doing face 2 face.

Our first reading for this week, titled Don’t overestimate privacy of online information states that: Employers hiring potential employees and firing current employees based on their online social networking profiles is an issue that deserves attention, but the bigger dilemma is the lack of privacy online. Ouch. This really is something I hadn’t thought of until about a week ago … and it questions a lot of ethical ideals in my opinion. I know it is a public site, and we have the choice to sign up or not, but I am sure that there is a certain amount of trust that people have in “privacy” and their individual accounts. The article goes on to say that recent changes to facebook policies have “enable(d) Facebook the right to use content even after a person’s profile has been deleted.” I think I will be a little more careful with this account from now on.

Beware: the internet could own your future argues that privacy no longer means having control over who has access to pictures and information. Well then, who has control? Well, Facebook is again a great example of how this can go way beyond where most of us would ever expect. We likely place too much trust in the online social networks, and the secure “password protected” ccounts we set up. We need to be more aware of what it takes to maintain privacy online. I do anyways.

In Social Networks and Socializing, Andrew brings up some pretty good points, beginning with the way we classify online behaviour as unsocial. We see kids spending more time online, and think they are being anti-social. In fact, their “circle of friends” expands beyond the street they live on, and often circles the planet. The problem is, when you aren’t interacting with someone f2f, it is hard to get a feel of the relationship you have with them. I find this anyways. I kind of get to know someone online, through email, Facebook, or other social network sites, but until I meet them f2f, I don’t feel I really know them. The privacy side of things … well, most of us aren’t aware of how much we leave ourselves open to, and what others can access about us.

Finally, Andrew brings up a really great point near the end of his blog: “At a time when we need to embrace internationalism, to understand and accept different cultures and beliefs the last thing we need is reduce the circle of contact”. How true is this … the problem is … how can we best prepare students to enter this cyber-world, and provide them with the skills and knowledge to safely interact online, globally, virtually?

Andrew’s response – “As to predators, yes they exist in the virtual and the real world. We can not protect our children by wrapping them in cotton wool either virtually or really. Eventually they will be outside of the bounds of our protect and woefully ill prepared. Rather we need to educate them, establish dialogue that is open, frank and honest about the risks; build a relationship of trust where they are comfortable talking about these events if they should occur AND teach them how to avoid ever getting into at risk positions.” This is the key. Treat it like anything else by keeping the dialogue open, frank, and relevant to their learning (and lives). We can’t pretend the risks aren’t there, or that they will magically go away. We can’t say “don’t use the internet except for school use”. They just need to know what is out there, how it may affect them, and what to do (or who to turn to) when things get uncomfortable or unsafe.

One solution according to Andrew is the 3 i’s:

  • Interested – ask them what they are doing and who they are doing it with.
  • Informed – understand about what social networks are, what the games are, what are the benefits and what are the risks.
  • Involved – be involved in the students (or child’s) use of technology, keep them insight and be there.

A great read. If you haven’t read the entire article already, please check it out …


~ by yamaguru on April 5, 2009.

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