Dividual Privacy

“As procedural data due process tells us, we need to build into privacy’s conceptual foundation a recognition that we all expect different types of privacy in different contexts — even if those contexts are algorithmically produced” (p. 234)

We Are Data, John Cheney-Lippold

Privacy policies have always been something that has interested me, because we maxresdefault.jpgessentially put our trust in social media platforms and apps despite knowing that our information we share is constantly being absorbed within their database. No one ever reads the privacy terms and more or less gives it a quick skim before tapping the “I agree to these terms” button so as to finally start interacting with the app or website. Everything we need to know, however, is embedded right in that very long policy information, and if we actually chose to read them, we probably wouldn’t have half the social platforms we have now based on what we’d find out.

On page 207 of Lippold’s We Are Data, he has a section called Rest In Peace, Privacy, explaining how privacy is “dead” and that “a general consensus exists that what we do online today is not private at all”, and it’s very true. Everyday as users we are being surveyed and data about our content is being stored without our knowledge. Just looking through Google’s privacy policy, it states how “when you use Google services, you trust us with your information. This Privacy Policy is meant to help you understand what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it.” A little ways down it acknowledges that they collect information that we give them, and information they get while we use their services.

Snap-MapApps, such as Snapchat, have had their fair share of privacy (or, lack thereof) backlash with the Snap Map update. This feature allows the user to share their location with friends and show their Bitmoji icon on a map. What Snapchat failed to expose, however, is that Snap Map will broadcast your exact location to anyone on your friends list every time you open the app, which can very easily provoke stalking and other unsettling activities. A Snapchat representative offered some detailed advice, stating that:

  • If you are choosing to share your location on the Map, your location is updated every time the Snapchat app is opened.
  • Only mutual friends can see each other on the Map.

This social vigilance makes me wonder why these platforms even have privacy policies in the first place, seeing as most of the content we produce and share gets locked away, anyway; nothing is truly private. Lippold refers to computer scientist Richard Clarke and his stance, saying that privacy is “the interest that individuals have in sustaining a personal space, free from interference by other people and organizations” (211), yet with the ability for any platform to generate an algorithmic process to obtain data, what is supposed to ‘protect’ us has no true value.


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