The principle which protects personal writings and all other personal productions, not against theft and physical appropriation, but against publication in any form, is in reality not the principle of private property, but that of an inviolate personality. If we are correct in this conclusion, the existing law affords a principle from which may be invoked to protect the privacy of the individual from invasion either by the too enterprising press, the photographer, or the possessor of any other modern device for rewording or reproducing scenes or sounds.
These words were written by two farsighted Boston attorneys and published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890. Sam Warren and Louis Brandeis, the authors of the article entitled “The Right to Privacy,” had no idea what the world would be like a little more than a century after they penned this revolutionary legal concept. Social media has overtaken the world and made it a much smaller, interconnected place. Some people extol this as a virtue and a natural evolution in humanity’s societal interactions. Then, there are others who see this as more of humanity’s fatuous fascination with itself and hope that anthropologists in the future do not laugh at us for being fixated on the aggressive distribution of memes, pictures of cats, and videos of people doing asinine things through social media.
Social media is a very powerful tool for disseminating information. It allows homemade projects to reach a wide audience for virtually no monetary cost. Take RAD: we do this for the sheer joy of it. We are not paid to do it. We have no funding to advertise it. The fact that we have a following of more than six people is owed in large part to reaching out through the Internet to get our name out there. That still amazes me, but there are two sides to my observation that social media is a very powerful tool for disseminating information. While you might be sharing a lot of content you choose to share, you are also sharing a lot of content that social media is demanding from you for this service. Forget black-suited government agents listening to your phone calls; the people giddily peeking at your private info are the people you surrendered that info to in the first place. Observe:
We receive data from or about the computer, mobile phone, or other devices you use to install Facebook apps or to access Facebook, including when multiple users log in from the same device. This may include network and communication information, such as your IP address or mobile phone number, and other information about things like your internet service, operating system, location, the type (including identifiers) of the device or browser you use, or the pages you visit. For example, we may get your GPS or other location information so we can tell you if any of your friends are nearby, or we could request device information to improve how our apps work on your device.
This is an excerpt from the data use policy page of the great czar of social media itself, Facebook, perched on its Iron Throne built out of API data and page likes. Do you remember reading that? Chances are that you never did. But yeah, don’t mind us – Facebook’s just gonna collect your cell phone number, your cell phone make or model, and info on all the things you look at in your browser. Just keep clicking on the share button for some music video and pay no attention to this. It’s all for improving our apps, dontcha know? The greater good!
Well, when you put it like that, how can I say no?
Really. How can I say no? Facebook is going to take this information whether I approve or not. In fact, scan through the data use policy. Facebook’s Terms of Service sound like a contract written by the mob. The stipulations are all about what you are not allowed to do and what Facebook can and will do. Around Section 10, there is a generous grant that Facebook will “not give your content or information to advertisers without your consent.” It sounds like some serious doublespeak when you read the clause above stating, “You give us permission to use your name, profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without compensation to you.”
Huh? Someone want to write that in English? It sure sounds like Facebook is turning a dime off your personal information because some corporation paid for it.
Personally, I am fond of the procedure that subjects users to be logged out and, to verify their identities, they must provide their cell phone number to Facebook. What if you refuse to provide a cell phone number? Oh, it is no trouble: just provide your driver’s license instead.
I have no idea what Facebook is doing with that kind of information. Almost none of us do. To how much are we consenting to use Facebook, and for what? So I can look up that one girl from high school who broke my heart and find out she married that one loser and they now have extremely fat kids? Gosh, it’s like all of my Christmases have come at once!
Seeing what all of these unknown, unnamed individuals behind the social media corporations are doing with your personal information? That is the real social experiment.