In a world where private information is shared on social media on a daily basis, it’s difficult to imagine that privacy is important. But as easy as it is to share private information, it’s as easy to use that information against you.
The loss of privacy can have major impacts on your life, ranging from decreasing mental health to a stolen identity. It can even harm your career decisions, preventing you from getting the dream job you always wanted.
This is why it’s necessary to know why privacy is important as well as how to protect it. Simple behavioral changes can form habits that keep you secure. In this world that’s run by computers & technology, privacy is more important than ever.
Here’s a few reasons to illustrate why you should safeguard your privacy:
Privacy is your right
The number one reason why privacy is important is because it’s your right. As a human being, you deserve the fundamental respect of keeping your information private from other individuals. Unless you’ve harmed someone or you’re planning too, not even your psychologist is allowed to disclose that you’ve committed a crime.
When it comes to privacy you have the right to:
- Refuse unwarranted searches of your home
- Refute information that is being used against you in a way that is humiliating or degrading to your character
- Decline searches of your body or personal belongings
- Embrace your freedom of speech with acknowledgement that there can be consequences
Technology has improved and so laws regarding internet privacy have improved as well. Whenever you’re online, websites aren’t allowed to store your private information without your permission. In cases where your information is stored, such as on Amazon, these websites aren’t allowed to share that information to third parties.
Many privacy rights have extended to social media. Any information posted on social media can’t be shared without your permission, and can’t be used in any way other than what you’ve given consent for. Permission is everything. Even information posted publicly is protected by you.
Many countries have even implemented Online Erasure which eliminates harmful content & digital trails. This is especially useful in protecting minors.
It’s your right, but you must be active in making sure that right is enforced. Practicing your privacy rights protects you, especially online where the concept of privacy doesn’t seem to exist.
Cyber bullying is a serious crime that occurs when your basic right to privacy is transgressed because your information is shared without your consent. This is done to debilitate & humiliate you and can be as severe as sharing nude photographs without your permission.
Cyber bullying can have a variety of harmful effects such as:
- Lowering self-esteem
- Withdrawing from family, friends or associates
- Leading to exclusion from social gathering or events
- Isolation from social groups
- A tendency towards depression, anxiety or self-harm
- Can even lead to suicide
The act of cyber bullying goes against your fundamental human right to privacy, especially where your personal information is used to hurt you. Although it’s common among children, even adults get cyber bullied on a regular basis.
But it’s not your fault. Protecting your privacy can help reduce cyber bullying but it won’t always stop it from happening.
What to do if you’re cyber bullied:
- Tell someone. Your private information is your right and shouldn’t be used against you
- Keep all evidence that can be taken to court as cyber bullying is against the law
- Call out websites or people who have shared personal information without your permission.
Cyber bullying has debilitating effects on your mental state. Understanding that it’s a breach of privacy can help you overcome it as you realize you have more power than you thought. Therefore it’s important to take action against any form of manipulation.
Identity fraud is one if the most common issues regarding online activity and has sparked fear among many internet users. It can be as simple as recreating your Facebook profile using information you’ve shared in order to scam your friends.
Identity fraud can have a variety of long-term consequences, such as:
- Financial issues as many banks may refuse to pay back money you’ve lost
- Reduced mental state due to increased stress or depression
- Loss of friends who blame you for being scammed
- You can be listed for crimes you didn’t commit
Ensuring your private information is secure can prevent any form of identity theft. Unfortunately advanced technology has made it easier to commit. For that reason, it’s important to take as many measures as possible to prevent it.
Always keep an eye on your personal information & bank accounts. If anything seems peculiar, report it immediately. Being vigilant can save you from hassles in the future.
Privacy from being watched may sound weird, but in this day & age almost every computer is equipped with a camera. Your privacy includes not being watched or filmed by outside parties. The last thing you need is for a film of you engaged in intimate activities to be leaked without your knowledge.
Not even the government has the right to watch you without your consent. It may seem like a bit of a conspiracy theory to think they would, but rather be safe than sorry—it’s important to ensure your camera is off when not in use.
Even if you’re not doing anything illicit, you have to right to the freedom of mind that your alone time is truly private. Finding out you’re being watched is an act of betrayal and can lead to paranoia.
The solution: Always report it if you suspect you may be watched or stalked in any way. Once again: Take back the power others try to rob you of.
Your search history is also private information, which means no-one can record your search history without your consent. It can’t be used against you unless it indicates you’ve committed a crime so you have the freedom to search whatever you like, as long as it’s legal, without repercussion.
Considering what you post on the internet is as important as protecting your personal information. Anything on the internet is private information you’re sharing on a public forum. When you share it’s easier for private information to be used in a way that could be harmful to you.
If you followed the James Gunn controversy that happened last year, it’s extremely clear why you should keep information private. James Gunn lost a lucrative career because his own privacy was breached and he chose to make offensive jokes on a public forum.
Being cautious of what you share online could save you in the long run. Before posting anything, consider:
- How will your boss feel about you post?
- Could it impact an influential position in the future?
- Is it hurtful to anyone?
Sometimes it’s better to keep private information private. You never know how it could affect you in years to come.
Now you have a better perspective of why you should become a more private person. But how do you do it?
Once you get into the habit of protecting your privacy, you’ll find it’s very easy. Here’s a few tips & tricks to help you out:
Whenever you use any social media, website or app, always check the privacy settings. Every website will disclose how they can use your information and it’s your job to check how your information is being used. Cookies store your information, which is why it’s important to read the cookies information before agreeing to anything or delete them if need to.
In the case of social media, it’s not just enough to check your privacy every now & then. Every time you post something new, make sure the type of privacy setting is correct. Sometimes you might forget to change a tab from “public” to “friends” which could lead to sharing sensitive information. Getting into the habit of checking privacy settings will protect you in the long run.
Creating a solid password is tone of the most important steps when it comes to protecting your privacy. Here’s a few tips on how to create a strong password:
- It must be at least eight characters long
- Alternate letters, numbers & symbols in a random fashion
- Don’t make it too obvious. Avoid using important dates that would be easy to guess.
If you can, try not to use the same password more than once. This way, if one of your sites gets compromised, your other passwords will still be safe.
Antivirus software is not only meant to prevent your computer from crashing or keep away annoying pop-ups. One of its most important roles is to stop hackers from stealing your information without you knowing.
What may seem like a harmless game or website could actually be a backdoor to getting to your personal information. Without antivirus software, it will be too late by the time you realize what happened: The damage will be done.
Make sure you have the right programs installed and they’re up to date. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Only browse secure websites
Whenever you browse websites, a pop-up will often appear warning you that the site isn’t secure. Ignoring this pop-up can be detrimental to your private information. Unsecure websites make it easier for spam sites and hackers to gain your personal information such as your cellphone number or even passwords.
Making sure the website you’re using is secure is that one extra step of security that will prevent chaos later on. Unless you have to use a site that isn’t encrypted, such as a university site, avoid unsecure websites at all costs.
If you really have to, ensure the URL has been provided by a trusted source. Even then put safety measures in place. It takes more time, but you’ll be thankful in the long run.
Protecting your private information starts with you. It’s your job to become more aware of your privacy, especially when online. Using some of the tips listed above will help to begin the process of ensuring your information stays safe, but there are many ways in which you can secure personal information:
- When posting online, always be considerate of how your information may impact you & your future
- Be aware that everything you do has consequences
- Never post information such as your email address, cellphone number or home address on any public forums, including Facebook.
Remember, nothing ever truly gets deleted on the internet.
Privacy is one of your most valuable commodities. You have the right to privacy and to not have personal information used against you. Especially in a world where a hacker can steal your entire life in a heartbeat, it’s important to treat privacy as a precious resource.
Even when it seems like a good idea to spill all your information on Facebook, consider how it will impact you in the future. You don’t want the reminder of that drunken night popping up in your Facebook memories every year.
Hopefully this guide will show you just how important privacy is and these tips can be the starting point in forming habits that will protect your personal information for years to come.
The internet can be a vast & incredible place, full of information & social activity. Enjoy the benefits, but staying safe.