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The Internet, Technology, And Privacy Essay

1174 words - 5 pages

Privacy on the Web has become a growing concern among Americans' due to tracking and social profiling of users' and their online habits. Government, businesses, web platforms and their advertisers are collecting users' online data on a daily basis through various techniques which could be used for study, security, and economic advantage.
According to “The Danger of Big Data: Social Media as Computational Social Science,” smaller bits of user shared data can potentially be combined together to reveal information that could be damaging to a group or individual in which they may view as an invasion of their privacy. The capacity to collect and analyze such data can become a concern when that information is made available to businesses and government. With a lack of disclosure on how the users' data is being gathered and analyzed with a difficulty in knowing which pieces of the data shared could later prove damaging, many users' may not be aware of the potential adverse effects of the information they share online. [1][2]
Social media networks gather and analyze large amounts of data on their users' to build a detailed social graph to better target advertisements, which can create an ethical dilemma in what constitutes as sensitive user information and how that could vary between different users'. In one case that called for class-action lawsuits in the U.S was how Facebook would keep track of its users and the websites they visited via the “Like,” and “Recommendations,” buttons that many web sites include for social and sharing purposes. Facebook was notified every time a user would access a website that had a “Like” button, even if the button wasn't clicked or the user logged into their Facebook account. [3]
Due to the accuracy of user shared data, the information can also be targeted based on the users' associations, interests, and employer. For example, most of the information required to steal someones identity can be found on social networking sites that users are a part of. According to the RCMP, some of the information required for identity theft includes full name, date of birth, and address. [4] With the amount of private information being collected and shared across networks and their services, a need for protection of information begins to rise.
About 68% of internet users' in America believe that the current laws that are in place are not good enough in protecting people's online privacy, according to a report on Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online. [5] The report continues to point out, based on information from a poll gathered by the Pew Research Center on Internet & American Life, that a majority of users' have made attempts to avoid observation of groups, companies, government, and other users'. Among the top groups that users' try to avoid are advertisers and criminals. [6]
Some of the methods that users' have taken to avoid observation online involve clearing their web history, deleting or editing information that they...

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