Digital Life

Digital security is always something I have been hyper aware of. As a small business owner in an industry where oversharing is the norm I was wary of posting too much. So many of my counterparts would share everything about themselves including their families, homes, vacations, etc. Because of these posts it was easy to glean sensitive information like birthdays, addresses and when they were away from home; this put them at risk and at least one was robbed while on a business trip because someone was able to connect the pieces she had put out there.

I still had to share some information but in order to protect myself I decided to remove as much of myself from social media as possible. I do not have Facebook and my neglected, private Instagram account has mostly photos related to my business or my knitting hobby since I used it to connect with my knitter friends. Because my account is private, I control who can view it and because of that only people I know can see my posts. I did have a personal “about me” page on my very public website that had a photo of my family but even that made me uncomfortable.

In an era where people want to share everything it can be hard to be an outlier. I very much want to share photos of my family but I also want my child to grow up without their every move being documented for the world to see. I also do not want strangers being able to track me down based on information that I carelessly shared on public platforms. Now that my business is closed I am much more anonymous on the internet which I prefer. However, because I used my old business URL for this project, people can see that I am a student at Mason and if you Google my name this is one of the first hits (hi, friends!) I’ve had a few emails this semester asking about the change to my website which clearly is no longer used to document photography sessions or host a business website.

If someone really wanted to know about me though I am sure they could find out more than what I am aware of. I care about government surveillance but solely for the fact that I know minority groups are being targeted. In another class this semester we read a report about targeted surveillance of Muslim Americans in NYC. Aside from the fact that it was unlawful, blatant profiling, the negative effects on the community were staggering. People did not feel safe openly discussing topics such as politics and many pulled away from their local mosques. This type of surveillance has also been used with regards to Black Lives Matter and other groups advocating for change. While I care about the government surveiling citizens I realize I am not a target and should use my privilege to speak out about this injustice.

Digital security is always something I think about before sharing personal data but at the end of the day I do think we are moving to digitized society. Everything is becoming interconnected so I think that for the majority of people education is the best tool. We must become smarter with our information and demand that companies do more to protect us. Once we know where the vulnerabilities are we are better equipped to demand fixes and  can better protect ourselves in this digital world.

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