Privacy in the Modern World

Generally speaking, our lives are on the internet. It is as simple as that. Unless you are Amish, have been homeless your whole life, or live in an underdeveloped or Third World country, chances are there are traces of you online somewhere. For many people, a lot of this online presence is highly intentional, whether it be a desire to share their daily life with friends on social media or to put themselves out there for employers on LinkedIn, and everything in between. Unfortunately, though, not all of the information about us that’s out there is intentionally shared. This could be information gathered through account registration online, content from e-mails, posts about us from others, and so on. All of this has the potential to be used maliciously, which begs the question: how private really is life in the modern world?

Upon being prompted, I did a bit of research online to see what I could find on myself. Most of what I found was pretty unsurprising, with a link to my YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. There are some images of me, but they are ones that I shared personally. Some results had to do with my uncle, as he has been written about a bit, as well as my dad in relation to his work in the government. What was surprising and a bit alarming to me was how, with a bit of deeper diving, I was able to find an unsettling amount of information on a different uncle’s ex wife. There were things as simple as her birthdate and sex, but it became increasingly more uncomfortable to look through. Her address, an imbedded Google Maps link leading straight to her house, her voter ID and other voter information, and more personal records were readily available. Along with that, links to pages with loose information on other family members were displayed on the page as well. I was able to access all of this information with less effort than I could’ve ever expected, and it was all gathered without even looking up her name specifically.

While all of this is unsettling, there is still plenty that any individual person can do to try and prevent personal information from being at the ready for anyone. For beginners, though it may seem like common sense, you should always be mindful of what you both personally post and what information you willingly give to people and companies. To take it a step further, you can protect yourself from potential hacking of bank accounts or login information for websites by using things such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), creating an extra barrier for hackers when trying to log into your accounts, or Privacy.com, where you can generate a one-time use card or one with a limited amount applied to it. On top of this, password generating services are exceptional for creating passwords that are difficult to crack. While this protects your privacy in a specific kind of way, it also can help in the grand scheme of things as access to personal accounts could provide further private information to a hacker.

Ultimately, there are still ways to maintain a sense of peace in a world where bad people may try to find whatever they can on you for malicious reasons. By self-regulating and being conscious, as well as taking extra precautious steps, privacy is still alive and well. Just be careful out there.