Privacy. Privacy has always been very important to me- both in my interaction with people in person (what do I call this??) and especially my interaction with people online. I remember when I was in high school and university, and at times, even now, people would ask me about whatever event that was going on in my life- and I would genuinely be shocked/annoyed/surprised that they knew the little bit of information that they shared with me. I didn’t tell anyone, how would you even know that? Which then got me thinking that people were talking about me, and that made me uncomfortable. Why are people talking about me, and I barely know some of them?

My mother came to visit in Korea a few weeks back, and my sister (who lives in Virginia) asked me to change her Facebook settings. My mom is a proud grandmother (as she should be) to two of the cutest hapa toddler boys you’ll ever see. Her Facebook profile and banner are of the boys, and my sister (their mother) freaked out a little, because it was open to the public. I didn’t believe her, because we both set my mother’s page up to have “high security” and we’ve done the same to our Facebook pages, as well. My sister informed me that Facebook changed a few of its policies (yet again) and that anytime we change our profile picture or banner, the default is that it’s public to everyone. I checked my mother’s pictures, and my sister was right! I checked my profile picture, and the same thing- it was public! Like the video below states, I am very selective about who sees [my] content. Apparently, that’s not enough!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pftGOgDczJ4[/youtube]

I’ve done a Google search for my name, just to see what comes up- and A LOT comes up! More than I’m comfortable with. I’m fine with the professional sites, conferences I’ve attended, workshops I’ve presented at, etc. However, the white pages and other sites that list the names of my family- that makes me uncomfortable (and not the kind of uncomfortable that I should feel comfortable with). There’s no such thing as privacy online. There are varying degrees of privacy, but nothing complete. I believe this to be even truer after reading Evan Ratcliff’s attempt to vanish. CCTV is everywhere (especially here, in Korea), our IP addresses have so much information packed in to it, the internet is almost like a log and diary of our activity…

This paragraph made me question all of the times that I’ve made my information private, feeling good about myself “He decided to try Twitter. Eventually, he typed in “jdgatz” and found the account, locked from public view. Friends of @jdgatz could see his posts, but the general public, including Reifman, couldn’t. With a simple Google search for “jdgatz,” Reifman located an archived, unprotected version of jdgatz’s posts from the previous week. Gatz, at least at that point, had been revealing his location as he moved around. Maybe he’d do it again.”

WHAT?! So this guy, who knows way more about technology than I do, took all the necessary precautions to, essentially, erase himself, and someone was still able to access information that he made private? Well there it is. I have no chance. What I need to do is come to terms with the level of privacy and the information that is accessible to people who are doing the searching.