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Social Media Paranoia

The Changing Face of Privacy


Social Media Paranoia

The latest volley to come in the attack on personal privacy isn't a law at all - it's a growing public perception that not having a Facebook account is enough reason to be suspicious of someone.

Getty/Henrik Sorensen

There is a disturbing trend coming out that has to do with social media, especially Facebook. A lot of what I've written about has to do with various laws talking about social media and the various rights to privacy that we do or do not enjoy.

For the past year, there has been a rapidly growing theme in the employment world. While America faces critically high unemployment rates and everyone is looking for a job, the employers are making it hard are in hard are to get a job by imposing strange qualifications that same inappropriate to say the least. It has become an alarmingly common practice for employers to insist on giving them access to your Facebook profile. Some barely want to look at what you post, and who your friends are, while others require employees to add the company or its representatives as friends. This allows them to keep tabs on what you're saying.

The unfortunate part of this is that the social media outlet we use to keep in touch with friends and family has become something we must be cautious about posting on. We never know when that an employer will decide they take offense to something we have posted, and fire us. Companies have been taking this seriously enough that it becomes part of their hiring process.

Some people, your guide included, have given consideration to abandoning Facebook outright. More and more people who are concerned about their privacy are closing or disabling their social media accounts, unplugging themselves from the impersonal connection to their friends. It makes sense since that if the Facebook account is an issue, the easiest solution is to simply get rid of it.

Getting rid of your Facebook profile raises eyebrows. This was brought to the surface this summer, when police found that James Holmes (accused of the Aurora shooting spree) did not seem to have a Facebook profile. This information was found on a dating site, but other than that, Holmes did not seem to have a digital identity.

The disturbing thing is that simply not having a Facebook account is looked on as suspicious in and of itself. The supposition is that if you're not participating in social media, you simply must have something that you are hiding. This is the same nonsensical argument that Americans here when they "plead the fifth" in court. The automatic assumption is that because you are exercising your rights, you are hiding something.

Privacy is coming under attack from all directions. Being concerned about privacy online is enough to raise eyebrows. If you are reading this, you should be aware that following some of the advice you find here is enough to make you a person of interest if you come under the scrutiny of law enforcement agents. For example, using an anonymizer to hide your IP address from hackers is considered suspicious activity. Ten years ago, one of the most common pieces of advice was to be wary of shoulder surfers – people who would look over your shoulder to watch you login to your account online. Even employers were giving training about how to avoid shoulder surfing.

Today, the employer is the shoulder surfer. This is not a move in the right direction.

More and more, it is seeming as though protecting privacy is being viewed as a crime. Since privacy is the cornerstone protecting yourself from identity theft, the logical conclusion the only real conclusion we can come to is that identity theft is not a real concern to the "powers that be". As long as it is considered to be suspicious when you protect your private nation, we, as a society, can expect to see identity theft continue to grow over the next decade. And without laws in place to protect our social digital identity, we can anticipate a continued reliance by our employers, the police, as well as identity thieves to use anything we post against us. This, coupled with the growing trend to see "opting out" as suspicious activity paints a grim landscape for the future, a world where everything we say and do comes under scrutiny, and individualism is eradicated.

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