What Happens Online, STAYS Online

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September 9, 2014 by rayanardati

Living in a data-driven era, we share information very easily. The data we do share can be stored and collected from almost anything, social media being the main source. The idea of Big Data has raised many ethical issues as the information collected is so powerful that it has led to believe what your data body says about you is more real than what you say about yourself (Critical Art Ensamble, Dataveillance and Countervailance).


Social media is a major data source for retail companies and it is the main cause of the Global big Data Market. The fear revolves around our data being out there and not entirely knowing what is happening with it. Big data, often seen in the form of unstructured and semi-structured leading to a lot of information and creates an uneasy feeling and fear of data breach. One incident was when news broke out about the US government’s spying program PRISM, a top secret data-mining program allowing access to a vast quantity of data including emails and chat logs from internet companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft (New York Times, 2014).



‘Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure’, New York Times:




A More recent incident of data breach and invasion of privacy involved the app ‘Snapchat’. It is an app that is widely used and basically it is where you can share photos and videos with your friends and the content will disappear forever. Thinking about it now, it is laughable. This relates back to the reading where the ‘Ever-cookie’ is discussed. It explains how this is a tracking device that can never be destroyed with the tag line ‘never forgets’. If that is not enough to make an online user cautious about their activity then I do not know what is. (Rita Raley, Dataveillance and Countervailance)



It was later discovered that the Snapchat app violated promises to delete customer data. An article in the New York Times elaborated on this, and reveals that the FTC claims that the company “made multiple misrepresentations to consumers about its product that stood in stark contrast to how the app actually worked” (Jenna Worth, 2014). Data being collected without our knowledge and kept a secret is unsettling, especially with an app like Snapchat where customers have been made to believe that their image or video will disappear, leading some to send questionable content. Not only was our data collected without our permission, a hacker was also able to gain access to this unauthorized information and publish them online, exposing 4.6 million user names and phone numbers.




‘Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure’, New York Times:




Understandably, collection of data can benefit a business but it can also cause a lot of damage when not used ethically. The world has become a colossal network of data; excessive information about us as individuals have been uploaded and collected online. If this is the direction the world is going in, it becomes up to us to censor and filter things ourselves by being more cautious about our online activities. In this day and age of technology, it makes you wonder how much they can get a hold of and how much they already know.





Ian Black,  2013, ‘NSA spying scandal: what we have learned’, The Guardian, 11 June, viewed 29th August 2014




 Rita Raley, 2013, Dataveillance and Countervailance, reading, viewed 30th August




Jenna Worth, 2014, ‘Off the Record in a Chat App? Don’t Be Sure’, New York Times, 8 May, viewed 30th August 2014




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