Archive for the ‘Privacy’ Category

By Marcus Ray

“The era of instantaneous electronic communications, McLuhan claimed, would engender a ‘discarnate man’ whose identity was no longer contained in a physical body but extended through wires or broadcast through space” (Blondheim; Watson, p.19).

This quote from The Toronto School of Communication Theory sums up an idea that Marshal McLuhan had about the effects of media taking away the private life. He predicted “the loss of both identity and privacy in the era of electronic communications” (Blondheim; Watson, p.19). This theory is more relevant than ever before as social networking sites and retail corporations sell customer’s information to advertisers. Also, the sharing of information in social networking sites reveals more information than should be known.

Signing up to points cards, charge cards, mailing lists, and websites may seem to have benefits, but all of that information that you give away can be a valuable asset depending on the company. “The FTC has acted before to protect consumer privacy on the Web. In 1998, the FTC forced GeoCities to post a notice on privacy after determining the community site misled customers when it asked them to provide personal information it eventually shared with marketing firms,” says Greg Sandoval of Cnet.com. Corporations simply aren’t clear on what they intend to do with the information.

Websites are the absolute worst for selling information. Facebook is a prime example, as some of its privacy policies are in direct violation of Canadian law. Caroline McCarthy of Cnet.com writes that “while it’s easy for members to deactivate their accounts, it’s less clear on how to actually delete them,” meaning that once we think we’re finished with Facebook, it retains our information. “Facebook therefore can retain member data from deactivated accounts for an indefinite period of time, which is in violation of a Canadian privacy law,” states McCarthy, pointing out that the world’s most popular social networking site, with 12 million users in Canada, has gotten away with the violation of this law for so long.

On social networking sites, more information that just addresses, emails, and phone numbers are shared. Entire thought processes of simple everyday events are shared to the world, whether or not anyone cares. We tell everyone what we believe in, who we worship, what we did last night, or even what we’re doing right now. Rather than the individuals keeping to themselves, they extend their personal lives to others through these websites taking away their entire private life. G. Jayashanker of associatedcontent.com says, “what happens unfortunately with the online medium of communication is that people forget their boundaries and begin to extent their comfort zone to far beyond respectable limits for themselves.” They begin to become too comfortable with the impersonal side of social networking, revealing more information to strangers than they ever would in person.






The Toronto School of Communication Theory by Rita Watson and Menahem Blonheim


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