Today a person’s personal information is a commodity, and privacy is a struggle to maintain. I want to stop (or at least slow down) Facebook, Google and all their advertisers (not to mention Cambridge Analytica) from vacuuming up my information.
Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes — and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data. Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.
According to a video shared by the DuckDuckGo website, when we search for information on Google each of us can get slightly different, or sometimes enormously different results – even if we use the exact search terms in the exact order and at about the same time. DuckDuckGo, a search engine that emphasizes privacy, is a Google competitor.
The order of Google’s results may guided by what it knows about the individual who is doing the search. (Check out Ghostery to identify trackers on any or all of your pages.)
Collected information – including any previous searches, where we live, what we read, where we get our news, what we purchase, how much we travel, and much more can affect what we see in the results. I never thought about this much, but I do remember how a few years ago a group of my middle school students were searching on Google for information, and I noticed and was puzzled that similar searches sometimes generated lists of slightly different results. Continue reading “Your News, My News – Do We Get the Same Views?”→
Although I believed that I had taken significant steps to maintain a modicum of privacy in my 21st Century digital life, I was wrong.
I am less than halfway through Bruce Schneier’s book, Data and Goliath, all about the hidden methods of collecting our personal data, and already I am discovering that my personal privacy plan has many holes. I’m not that different from most adults. Privacy, however, is going away, and we collaborate in the process by not making any specific decisions and by going along with the ways the Internet tracks us. We do have choices, and we educators and parents need to learn a lot more about maintaining privacy and then share what we’ve learned with young people.
In the book’s first chapters Schneier addresses data collection, how trackers get added to my computers and digital devices as little files called cookies. With a quick search, I found over 1,000 cookies and cache files on my laptop, despite the fact that I only allow cookies from places that I visit (about 650 were cookies). Some of these are useful and don’t bother me — like the cookies for the several catalogs where I regularly make purchases, the newspapers which I read, and the educational and musical organizations which I like. Read more about cache. Continue reading “How Much Privacy Do I Have? DuckDuckGo Gives More”→
Finding good resources to help young people learn and understand more about data and photo collecting is key to building strong citizens in our 21st Century digital world. We adults can also learn a lot in the process.
Interestingly, no matter how we set privacy settings (stipulating who can see our images), the sites where we post and share continually accumulate information about us — much, but not all, gleaned from the photos themselves. Yes, it’s about digital footprints, but it’s much bigger than that.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve heard middle and high school kids say that they are sick-and-tired of hearing about their digital footprints — with many exclaiming that they already know what they need to know. My thought? They understand how they make digital footprints, but they don’t always make good decisions when it comes to avoiding the not-so-good digital trails.