Protect your online privacy

TONY ESPINAL | Asst. Opinion Editor

Recently, Sen. Rand Paul decided to file a class action lawsuit against the National Security Administration for its role in mass privacy invasion. Americans from all over are rushing to support the suit and have been expressing outrage about this revelation.

Some people are so mad that they have taken to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites to tell everyone everywhere in the world how upset they are.

It seems strange that we cling to social sites to express outrage over privacy. People are sharing their feelings through outlets that have been called out for their lack of privacy.

So, if you are one of those people who think the NSA invaded your privacy, you should step back and think about your Facebook profile.

In January, The New York Times ran an article about ways to increase privacy on Facebook. However, the article also tells us that Facebook “scrutinizes every like, share and data point — even things you hide on your public profile.”

Then, Facebook uses this information to create ads for marketers. Facebook also has the right to change its privacy policies as it sees fit and can turn your private items public.

That means the secret picture of us doing shots at the bar or the video of our most embarrassing moments could easily be made public, and once someone gets a hold of it, we have no control what they do with it.

While Forbes tells us 47 percent of social media users fear friends or family will share inappropriate information about them online, we willingly spread our information throughout the Internet, giving no thought to the consequences of being so carefree and potentially reckless with our personal information.

When we check in to a place on Foursquare, we are telling everyone exactly where we are.

When we tweet, we leave a trail of everything we have ever put on the site.

Think back to how many celebrities or public figures have accidently tweeted inappropriate photos of themselves. If you look long enough, you can still find them online.

Obviously, the most effective way to truly protect our privacy  is to cut ourselves off from social media completely. That is never going happen.

The next step we need to take is to learn how to manage our social media footprint to the best of our ability.

It is also imperative that we begin to use the utmost discretion when deciding what we post on social media sites.

So we should take some time out of our day to do research on these issues. There is a lot of good information out there that can help, such as how to navigate the different privacy settings on Facebook or limit location data on other sites. With information like that, we can develop the necessary skills to protect our digital identities.

Protecting our digital identities   may also require us to examine our own social media behavior and ask ourselves  if there is anything online that we might need to take down.

It is time we stop placing the blame solely on the government and corporations and take some responsibility for the personal content we willingly put on the internet.

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