The World Wide Web was created far enough back for most people not to care about the specific date. It is a great asset for school, work, and general entertainment. But, with all the good things it brings, there are some negatives as well. The internet, once a new place of discovery, is now a place of caution with danger lurking around every corner. Lori Andrews writes about the privacy issues of the web in her essay, “George Orwell… Meet Mark Zuckerburg. ” Already, in her title she emphasizes Orwell’s rational fear of “Big Brother” is happening now on Zuckerburg’s social media site, Facebook.
It is not just Facebook that has fallen to data aggregators invading the privacy of anyone online. Andrews describes data aggregators as people or companies that analyze online data and sell that data online to other people or companies (708). Peggy Orenstein also discusses online privacy issues in her essay, “Just between You, Me, and My 622 BFFs. ” Orenstein focuses on the effects social media has on the younger generations and the offline problems it causes. She believes there is an issue of losing oneself online by “becoming a brand” due to how easy it is to fall victim to the constant judging of their Facebook friends, specifically.
Having the internet is a huge asset that sent mankind forward technologically. However, due to private matters made public, the internet has become a hunting ground for data aggregators and judges looking for easy preys. Therefore, a person’s personal information can be taken and sold without their knowledge, making the internet a dangerous place to visit. Privacy has been slipping away from the internet due to the increase in data aggregators and the onset popularity of social media sites, such as Facebook.
Any privacy thought to have online is a smoke screen for people to rob one’s identity and sell it to others. Andrews clearly voices her disappointment when she states, “If someone broke into my home and copied my documents, he’d be guilty of trespass and invasion of privacy. If the cop wanted to wiretap my conversation, they’d need a warrant. But, without our knowledge or consent, virtually every entry we make is surreptitiously being tracked and assessed” (708). Her anger is not unwarranted, but the issue is nearly unavoidable.
It is clear that data aggregation is a serious problem and if it was anywhere offline it would be illegal. A similar issue arises from social media sites. People, particularly young adults, are constantly on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. On social media sites data aggregators are not the only ones watching and collecting personal information. Orenstein states her caution with Facebook particularly when she interviews a few young teenage girls and realizes, “Six hundred twenty two people are watching her, judging her, at least in theory, every hour of everyday” (447).
People using social media grow accustomed to sharing everyday life experiences in their status updates or tweets. Now, all their online friends can read that and judge that statement however they want. This brings the next huge issue the internet has brought humankind. Mankind is at the age where an identity crisis is the norm. Data aggregators are collecting personal information from websites. It is not only a name and a basic location, but what a person searches on the internet. Any action online has been tracked by these vultures, always scavenging for scraps of meat to fill their daily quotas.
These bits and pieces of information become a second-self; “In essence, a second-self – a virtual interpretation of you – is being created from detritus of your life that exists on the web” (Andrews 710). As if this portrayal of the true self was not enough, social media makes a more psychological argument of the true self. Orenstein explains how the self is “becoming a brand”, something that is being advertised to others hoping for some people to buy into this persona (447). The problem is that this persona is also false.
The self should be developed from within not developed by the likes and retweets received when interacting with social media (Orenstein 447). Orenstein even admits she has noticed at times when she has fallen to the need of updating a status, “As I loll in the front yard with Daisy [Orenstein’s daughter] or stand in line at the supermarket or read in bed, part of my consciousness splits off, viewing the scene from the outside and imagining how to distill it into a status update or a tweet” (448).
This need to inform everybody online of what is happening at that moment by tweeting and posting pictures that are sure to be judged by the followers and friends leads to the need to feel accepted and creating an online persona. These false perceptions of the self has deeply affected the lives participating in crafting of a false self for attention not only online, but offline as well. Online activities are affecting one’s perception of the world and the world’s perception of him or her. Andrews describes weblining as, “the practice of denying certain opportunities to people due to observations about their digital selves” (711).
Weblining can set a person back, “Not only does weblining affect what opportunities offered to you in the form of advertisement, discounts, and credit lines), it also affects the type of information you see” (Andrews 712). Andrews used the example of Yahoo! News to reiterate the current issue of lack of privacy. Yahoo! News uses information from data aggregators to sort out what kind of news to show a person (712). That person may have looked at celebrity gossip and now that is the “news” that person would get on Yahoo! News. That person would be missing the important current events going on in the world.
Some companies also buy web history from data aggregators and use that to decide if an applicant deserves the job or not. Like before, Orenstein takes a more psychological take on the effects. Unfortunately, online activities are affecting the psychological state of young adults. Orenstein’s research proves, “The impact, back in the offline world, appears to be an uptick in narcissistic tendencies,” (447). She even goes on to say the young adults are in short supply of empathy and have trouble maintaining romantic relationships and being honest (Orenstein 447-448).
This is a huge blow to the lifestyles young adults play. Young adults have gotten so bad that in a new horror television show, “Scream Queens”, one girl is being attacked and she still takes the time to tweet that she is being attacked by the antagonist, the Red Devil. This is not the first or the last time Hollywood has used young adults as the butt of a joke. This new attitude on life, that everything needs to be put on social media about themselves because people like or favorite their posts, is encouraging narcissism and killing individuality.
If this continues, then the younger generations are going to be in for a rude awakening when trying to get a job or trying to buy a house because everybody is being tracked online by data aggregators. Online activity is being tracked like the world is under suspicion of terrorism. Every move made online is being watched, collected, bundled, and sold to someone else. Andrews gives a terrifying statement when she says, “Dictionary. com (one of my favorite websites, which I use more often than Facebook) installed 234 tracking tools on a user’s computer without permission, only 11 from Dictionary. om itself and 223 from companies that track internet users” (714).
The worst part is that data aggregators have a symbiotic relationship with websites. A website will sell them personal information that, in turn, they sell to advertising companies. As said before, this does not just affect the online self. Even on social media sites information is being tracked, “Mark Zuckerburg [creator of Facebook] makes up only 14. 6% of the behavioral advertising market” (Andrews 710). Social media is not even safe from the followers or friends of a person on Facebook, “622 people can witness everything she writes, every picture she posts.
Six hundred twenty-two people can pass that information on to their 622 friends” (Orenstein 447). The innocent game of showand-tell becomes a dangerous game of sharing that may never stop. There have been several cases where a young female has posted a picture of herself wearing nothing and sent it to a friend, who in turn sent or showed it to another friend. This game never ends. It can ruin reputations and lives. Even with the internet’s advance into the future, it brings an unnerving amount of danger.
Personal information is collected and packaged in a pretty bow for advertising companies to buy up and use or sell again. Privacy is the biggest issue of being online. Data aggregators are digging through any information they can find to make a buck, while social media friends and followers are constantly judging those who post and tweet information about their lives. Identity becomes an issue when data aggregators create a second-self, an online interpretation based on search history, and social media’s “branding” for attention.
Neither one is the true self, but people on the outside believe what they see, so they choose to believe this is an accurate interpretation of a person. Weblining affects whether a person gets a job, a bank loan, and even how much money is placed on a credit line. It can either start a career or end a life. As soon as a person logs into their computer or phone and gets on the internet they are being tracked. Technology has always been a scary thought that could later destroy the world, but now today it is destroying lives one by one.