Internet should come with a warning label. Every time you open up a browser you should get a reminder of the risks with internet.
I am not against internet, on the contrary I am very dependent of it. But it is not a calm sea where seahorses bobbing around. If you don’t know what you are doing you may get, or get someone else, into serious trouble.
We use to say internet have made the world smaller, in reality it has made the world much larger. Not so long ago all we had to care about was the dangers in our block, neighborhood or city, today a perpetrator can sit on another continent only equipped with a smartphone.
A few years ago I wrote about how we leave digital footprints everywhere and everything we do is being stored. Due to some recent discussions and as a father I will talk about internet safety from another point of view.
People in general complaints about NSA and its counterparts around the world sniffing data and spying on their own, and other countries, citizens and how Facebook and social media collects information from users.
The same people have no problem putting their whole life on display, sharing photos of their car, their house and family members. Telling the world where they are and where they are going.
You don’t need to be a hacker to know everything about someone today, just follow them on preferred social media channel and soon you have all information you may want.
This is not a difficult equation – If you don’t share there is no information to collect.
My general guidance when ever in this discussion are;
The problem with my well-meaning advice is they conflict with one of humans most basic characteristics and the main reason social media can exist – Narcissism.
You just have to get over yourself, you are not that interesting.
Without narcissism there would be no social media
I know most readers will ignore my words of wisdom, people choose to not know – Ignorance is a bliss.
But I am not alone, Lionel the News Decoder has something to say;
Lionel may be a little overexcited and come across as paranoid, I admit so can I. But just because I am paranoid doesn’t mean I am wrong.
“Paranoia is just having the right information.”
― William S. Burroughs
Lionel asks a very simple question, would you like someone else to post all that information about you?
If the answer is no then you shouldn’t post it yourself.
I am not perfect, I have acted against my own advice, but I am very aware of it and every time I have thought it through and considered possible consequences.
So in clear text, where are the actual dangers?
It doesn’t have to go as far as a missing child to be bad. Do you have any idea where the photos you post to show your friends end up?
Lets have a look at the Terms of Service for two large sites
2.1 Intellectual property
…you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.
By signing up you agree with the terms and allow Facebook to transfer or sub-license, meaning uploaded content – photos – can be used by Facebook everywhere but also licensed out to others. Sure, that right ends if you delete the photo UNLESS it has been shared by others.
As a side note, the first sentence in their first paragraph 1. Privacy states “Your privacy is very important to us“ which I read with an ironic voice.
1 …you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service…
Same as for Facebook you allow Instagram to do very much what they want with your photos
Once you have uploaded your photo you have surrendered all control and rights of usage.
Internet today is a feast for everyone to pick their favorite photos for their pornographic and/or pedophile collection. And a perpetrator don’t have to find the photo on your profile, it can turn up anywhere.
A not unlikely scenario; A renowned online magazine have an article about children but no photos. They turn to Instagram, which can be considered a huge stock photo site, where they find a photo of your cute child. Instragram sub-license the photo to this renowned magazine which post it with the article. Somewhere on the other side of the world someone google cute child and your photo turns up which he easily copy and save. Suddenly your innocent photo you just wanted to show your friends have become part of the child exploitation on internet.
You can google or search youtube for true stories. I advice not to, you may run in to some quite disturbing events. Instead I will present a not so graphic clip.
Apart from everything that can go wrong there is one even more important cause parents seems to ignore.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
1.No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honor and reputation.
Children have the right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their family and their home.
(c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
Governments should protect children from sexual abuse.
States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.
Children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development
UNs convetions and agreements are for certain overrun on regular basis, but no reputable social media allows children under 13 years old to register nor do they target them in services. This is by a US Fedral law, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, to protect childrens privacy. As a side effect it helps avoid exploitation.
Although other countries may not have an equivalent law this is a standard in social media if the media in question wish to break in to the US market.
So why do parents, the guardians, the ones who are supposed to protect breach these rights and laws to put their beloved on display?
It is not for the well-being or best of the child. It all comes down to narcissism.