When we use Chrome, Google’s tracking cookies follow us everywhere, and the video below perfectly illustrates how these trackers operate in our digital lives. It was produced by Washington Post technology columnists, Geoffrey A. Fowler and James Pace-Cornsilk.
Enjoy watching, but also ask yourself how much of your personal data and your daily activities you want to share with these trackers? Moreover, how much of your children’s data do you want these cookies to collect? In a connected world, digital life is complicated as is personal privacy.
FYI, I have stopped using Chrome completely (I use Duck Duck Go as a browser), and I am migrating to an email that I pay a small fee for each month. To learn more about what I use you may want to read two past MediaTech Parenting posts.
Every day, it seems, we hear of another hack of credit cards or the theft of personal data from health records. It’s difficult to keep track of it all, much less protect passwords (are yours secure?), various accounts for home and work, personal information and so much more. Yet it’s not just hackers. Many legitimate companies collect and share personal data, and they do it without an individual’s consent. It seems like more and more companies are cavalier about the privacy of their customers.
Now Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced federal privacy legislation that aims to protect American consumers’ personal information by proposing a Privacy Bill of Rights. Senate Bill would establish a set of clear rules that specify how companies can use personal information and what they can and cannot do. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would have the authority to make and enforce rules.
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.
It is a given in this age of connected life that our privacy is much diminished, and it does not matter whether we are children or adults. The trick seems to be for each us to make thoughtful decisions about what family members share and, as much as possible, be aware what is shared or collected about us.
For me, this has been an interesting week where privacy and kids’ privacy is concerned, because four distinct events occurred.
The idea of spring cleaning each individual’s digital profile is terrific — something for parents and teachers to do themselves and then share with children.
Just like we tidy up our homes and our gardens in March, April, and May, it’s a good time to put our digital domiciles on the to-do list. Paying attention to the upkeep of our digital footprints and devices allows us to clean up and polish online images and minimize potential problems on our devices and gadgets. In the process, we learn a lot about ourselves, but also about the details that others can learn about us online.
Our vision for A Platform for Good is to start a dialogue about what it means to participate responsibly in a digital world. While recognizing the potential risks, we will celebrate technology as a vehicle for opportunity and social change.
The clean-up-your-digital-life mini-poster, available by link or download, asks each of us to take some time to dust off our online lives. Suggestions include ensuring that our passwords are strong, Googling ourselves to see what comes up from a search, and examining our devices to be sure that they are secure and up-to-date. The Platform for Good document also encourages individuals — adults and children — to evaluate the privacy settings on any social network accounts (many adults and children reside on these sites as if they are second homes or at least daily digital playgrounds).
Much of what a child or teen does online gets added to a digital profile. Even when information is not supposed to be collected, it accumulates – somewhere. Moreover, when a child or adolescent acts impulsively or thoughtlessly online, no way exists to erase or delete a digital mistake. Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society posts a great digital dossier videothat parents and educators may want to use as a conversation tool.
To get a sense of how much you really know about the social networking world and the movers and shakers who are actively developing and tweaking it, take a social media quiz. The Big Social Media Quiz over at the Liberate Media website.
A user needs 70% to pass this quiz, and though I know all sorts of minutia about social media, I only answered 50% of the questions correctly. Sigh!
Liberate Media is a PR firm with social media expertise.