Do You Know How Much People Are Creepin’ On You?

Most of my closest friends and roommates by now know I have a tendency to use Social Networking sites to creep pretty darn hard on people (ok, lets be honest here, mainly men I find attractive…). With half of all adults and three fourths of all teenagers in the US using social networking sites, Social Networking has started to change the way our society interacts and we are still scrambling to figure out these new social and ethical norms.

Instead of asking me for my number, someone I recently dated asked me how to spell my name instead, and then proceeded to find me on Facebook, over which he then messaged me to ask me out on a date. Before I said yes, I thoroughly sifted through all 1,189 of his pictures and contacted some of the people we were mutual friends with to get their opinion on his character. I told you I was creepy. Once we got to the date portion, as you can imagine as a by product from looking at every single one of those 1,189 pictures, I already knew A LOT about him. This can often result in that awkward moment when you jump the gun and mention something personal about them that they haven’t told you about yet – made even worse if you aren’t “friends” yet on Facebook but you’ve still managed to stalk him (thanks to their not so private security settings). Or what do you do when they start to tell you something that you already know (but probably shouldn’t know yet) because of your stalking? Just lie and pretend as if this is all new news? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned honest and organic conversation?

The way we creepily interact with society using Social Networking doesn’t stop at my awkward dating experiences – check out this awesome prank/experiment that Jack Vale performed to show complete strangers how easy it is to find out their personal information. You think I’m creepy? Believe me, this guy took it to another level of creepin’:

I think most teenagers and young adults are aware of the potential someone like me has to do some harmless pre-date Facebook background checking and don’t seem too concerned about it. However, what recently has become a concern is the extent to which user information is being sold and used by companies. According to an article by The New York Times,

In a national survey last year, Forrester Research found that one in three consumers were concerned about companies having access to their behavioral data. More than 40 percent said they had stopped short of completing a transaction on a Web site because of something they read in a privacy policy.

The good news is that businesses are starting to realize how devastating the lack of consumer trust can be as technology plays a greater role in consumers’ lives, and are starting to develop and implement privacy controls to regain that trust. Take Microsoft, for example, who decided that its latest Internet Explorer would by default have an antitracking signal turned on, as opposed to aware users having to activate that option themselves. This then led to the famous “scroogled”  marketing campaign boasting, boasting that unlike their competitor, they do not sift through their emails and search histories to target users with advertisements.

New start-ups are sprouting up everywhere, all trying to cater to consumer’s privacy invasion fears by selling them services that will grant them peace of mind. Albine is one example of such that guards users’ information by creating a single email address and password that the user will remember to sign in with. From there, Albine will generate a proxy email address or phone number for every website the consumer visits, say one for a dating website, another for an e-commerce site. This is the complete opposite of what Facebook is doing where a user has to use his or her Facebook login credentials to use dozens of other websites, thus exposing a vast amount of personal information.

With technology and Social Networking now playing such an intimate part in our daily lives, privacy issues are bound to keep popping up. Thankfully, not all consumers blindly putting their trust in the idea that no one will abuse their information, and are instead demanding businesses respect and protect their privacy.

Some good reads to further your knowledge:

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