Privacy? – by “William Smith”

-“Oh man, what if there were an app that you could help you find your friends in the city and meet up with them?”

-“Sounds like a good idea”

-“We should make it.”

-“Yeah we should. “

Unfortunately, Apple beat me and my friend to the punch (along with many other apps), and we weren’t able (read: too lazy) to develop the app that is now known to iPhone users as ‘Find My Friends’. But it wasn’t long after ‘Find my friends’ debuted that controversy bubbled to the surface regarding its use. Apparently this tool can be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes like stalking and catching one’s wife having an affair. Who could’ve seen that coming? True, in the “find my friends breaks up a marriage” case the app was installed without the iphone user’s knowledge, but the idea that people would in most cases voluntarily make known their location at all times poses some startling risks. Chief among them letting people know you’re not home and should they wish to rob your home of all your belongings now would be the perfect time to do so.

Apps like these also pose new threats to criminals who, before location services, check-ins, and gps, were able to create steel trap tight alibis can now be tied to their crimes by a simple check in. Imagine foursquare bringing someone to justice!

I suppose in these times of rapidly developing technologies, criminals and those more straight laced in our society must both adapt our thinking to match reality. The fact of the matter is that things that were once private simply aren’t anymore. Things that once took an egregious amount of time to discern about a person can now be analyzed and determined within seconds. And in some cases information we would never expect for someone to see can be intercepted without us having even the slightest clue. For most of us, we have no problem with google knowing every website we’ve ever looked at in chrome. We see incognito mode as a feature reserved only for those lonely late nights where we venture to sites which will one day soon end in “.xxx” (totally SFW).

We all laughed in class when Brad showed us the hilarious Onion piece about facebook being a CIA operation, but does the laughter stop when we realize that the information we put up about ourselves is in fact poured over by CIA analysts? Are practices like that simply in the interest of keeping America safe? Is this the price we pay for wanting to use services like facebook, twitter, and foursquare? Is that price reasonable? These are all questions I’ve answered for myself, but ultimately it doesn’t matter what I alone think. There’s going to come a day on the internet where we accept as status quo that everyone can see everyone.

I’ve had many a conversation with people at parties where the gist of the conversation is that should any of us ever run for office we’ll be ruined by what we did as teenagers and young adults. I always counter with the fact that the people who will try to expose what we did as kids will have just as horrifying things about them on the internet and that at the end of the day that great equalizer that is embarrassment will override the internet’s permanence. Or I could be wrong and we’ll all just end up like this guy

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