THE MYTH OF PRIVACY

Who really thinks they have any privacy remaining?

What a shock it has been, discovering Facebook misused our personal data. Who could have imagined such a thing! Not.

All those cute little games on Facebook were a way for a sleazy political group to gather personal information about us and try to twist us to their goals. Like we didn’t already know that.

I also know people on the internet with blogs who think they are anonymous. They are anonymous from me, but that’s because I’m not interested enough to search for their real data. But — anyone who wants to know can find out anything they want about me or you or pretty much anyone. That’s reality.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Do you believe you are really hiding from anyone who is actively seeking your personal information? Because I can assure you, the only person you are fooling is you.

I stopped worrying about privacy when I began using the Internet. I was working in tech and I knew that everything you ever put out there stays out there. Forever. That was the end of whatever remained of our privacy — and there wasn’t much, even then.

Yet, the myth remains that we have privacy left to lose. Some folks believe we can trust our phone company, our devices, our ISPs, our government, and our postal system to keep their noses out of our private lives. This hasn’t been true probably ever, but certainly since before I was born.

Every form we’ve filled out in the past 15 years is on a computer that can be hacked — and for all we know, already has been hacked. Or is being hacked as I write this.

Everything is out there. It can be gathered by those who make money grabbing it. Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA and postal system were invading our mail and telephone calls when Eisenhower was president.

As long as there have been governments, they’ve been spying on citizens. Their own citizens and any others they can find. These days, I’m sure everyone is spying on us. Advertisers, political hackers, our government, our ISP. Our bank. Every company that sells a product you bought or might buy someday is watching you.

Each advertisement you click, any product you buy, every time you use that “discount” card for your groceries or gasoline or whatever, your personal data goes into a file. A data mining file. Which is for sale. Anyone can buy it.

Facebook is a tiny piece of a huge pie and we are the slices.

Should we worry about being careful what we say and to whom you say it?

Maybe. Or maybe not. It may not matter what we do or say. The amount of information being gathered by everyone about all of us is monumental. Gazillions of pages and lines of data.

The good news? There’s no way on earth they can sort through all of that information. The bad news? They have all that information.

I’m sure, by the way, that nothing that happened on Facebook or anywhere on social media changed my vote or could change my vote. I  bet they didn’t change yours either. We don’t get our information from Facebook memes or Twitter tweets.

No one can fix your vote if you think for yourself.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

50 thoughts on “THE MYTH OF PRIVACY”

      1. How factual do you think it is? He’s been discredited by some who were quoted or mentioned by name when overheard. I’ve been listening to it on audible and I’ve had to listen 3 times, actually, as I lose track between listens. And, I have not been as up on what is happening and who all the players are as I just couldn’t stand to listen to the news day by day. Just got too down. I was aware of major issues but the idea that he had no thought of winning was intriguing. Someone had mentioned this before in their blog. I believe it was Momshieb but not sure.. I thought it was an original thought but highly improbable. Now I reneg.

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        1. I asked Garry that. He’s pretty astute about reporters and he thought it was very credible. He thought the material was well thought out and seemed properly researched. I’m sure Trump’s people are out to get the guy and they have a lot of power, but Garry and Tom (who was a director at CBS for 40+ years) also found it credible. I think they know whereof they speak.

          Tom had told us long before the book came out that Trump didn’t want to win. He just wanted his TV show back and he got THAT information from CBS’s top brass. Also, Trump SAID he had not expected to win. On TV. He was very loud and clear about it.

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            1. I think Trump’s expectation of loss was pretty widely known. Anyone in the TV or news biz knew about it. It wasn’t a secret. What is truly weird is that he let this reporter into the White house and LET HIM gather all this information. They were so disorganized, no one seemed to realize he was really going to write a book.

              They are a bunch of morons — with nuclear codes.

              Liked by 1 person

  1. I blog anonymously. But I know that, as you pointed out, if someone really wanted to discover my real identity, they could. I’m not sure they’d find anything worthwhile, though. But the main reason I am anonymous on WordPress is because I once did have my identity stolen and it took many months and a lot of effort to rectify the damage. So while my secret identity, with some effort can, I suppose, be revealed, at least it will take some effort.

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  2. You said it all in nutshell, much better than I could. My little world won’t crumble, but they are today’s facts of life so accept it. Mark Zuckerberg is apologizing, poor man. I wonder who is collecting his personal data

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    1. I’m sure the FBI has a HUGE folder on Zuckerberg. Probably the CIA and the every other country where FB works. It’s so easy to get information on people. Hackers have gotten into everything including my bank, most of the places I shop — places like Adobe and Bank of America AND Equifax. So big surprise — Facebook too. I don’t know what people think is happening, but they seem awfully naive to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had also heard that Trump did not expect to win. He was never in it because he thought he could make things better, it was all about more publicity for him. What is particularly awful is that having somehow managed to win anyway he has made no effort to be worthy of the job or act like a President.

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    1. Every country spies on its own citizens. We are the first people they spy on and they don’t even bother to hide it. They did it in ancient Rome and they do it now, but today they do it electronically because the population is so much bigger. It amazes me that people seem oblivious to what is so obvious. Good lord, back in the olden days in England, you didn’t go blabbing about what you thought of the king either because you might just discover you were suddenly dead. There were ALWAYS government snitches hanging around the town square.

      As humans, I swear we are much more stupid than we used to be. Thanks for your support. I don’t know what people call their “secret agents,” but I’m sure there is no country so small that they don’t have them. Whatever their name, they are all busily listening.

      On a side note, I have met a few people here and there who worked with or for our CIA or FBI. These people are not blabbermouths, but if they know you well enough, they will tell you a little bit about what they did … and most of it was sitting around and listening. Just listening. And they are still out there — not just on Facebook or other media. They are still sitting around the cafe listening.

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  4. I try to keep as low a profile as possible, for my own comfort zone. No online banking, shopping, no Pay Pal, no smartphone, no public expressions of wealth (ahahahaha) or anything else. Where it shows, though, is when you look up a friend’s name and one of those sleazy Private Eye sites immediately goes into action. I’ve never indulged, and no they aren’t getting my card, either.

    You do get used to it, heck, just look at Images on Chrome. When I first got into media on here I wandered over to FB to see what was what. The default in those days (which no one realized) was full disclosure. 12 year old kids had their entire personal history displayed, as well as those of their friends, on and on into the ether. Took me a week to divest myself of all those friends and friends of friends (like sticky burrs on wool)
    and dump the entire process.
    Any social media site is like that.Step in the door and people you never met are at the counter, wanting to be your best friend.

    We both are relatively uninteresting, and I LIKE it that way.

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    1. We have retained our dullness too. Garry is extremely wary. He does know stuff and he isn’t talking. He won’t even tell ME because he says though many of people involved died, they have other family who could be dangerous. If he said he’d never reveal it, NEVER meant NEVER — and that includes everyone, especially me. He has always worried about potentially making me a target.

      I don’t mind pointing out we are poor because poverty doesn’t make us a target — and it’s also true, so what the hell. But I don’t fill our forms, play games that indicate my politics, personal beliefs, or who my friends are. I talk about things that are interesting, but would be “general knowledge” should anyone bother to do a little research. Almost everything I know takes barely a few minutes to figure out by Googling it. I’m amazed at how few people bother to even do that.

      To me, that failure to do ANY research is mind-boggling. Don’t people care? What is WRONG with people? And how dare they whine about how awful things are when they never took a minute to discover who and what they were voting (or not voting) for?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It took my granddaughter awhile to figure out that the one spreading stories about her was HER. Once she figured it out, she changed. Parents need to keep their kids in check when they are too young to know how much damage they can do by talking thoughtlessly online. We all need to be sensible and then, maybe, we’ll get some privacy back 🙂

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    1. I doubt it will change. I am wary of the kind of information I put out there. My name? Everyone knows it or would know it soon enough. The basics of my life? Again, it’s pretty universal. But about other things, I’m careful. To be fair, I’m careful about that stuff anyway except with really close friends and family. There’s a lot of stuff that I have always thought was inappropriate for social media and I’m always shocked at how intimate people get on open groups like Facebook. Aside from who might use it against you, don’t people WANT privacy? How can you be private if you air all your dirty laundry in public as a matter of course? I find that mind-boggling.

      I have noticed — recently — that a lot of the kids who used to do that have clammed up as they got older. That gives me some hope.

      We aren’t going to have any form of privacy unless a lot of people learn to shut up and not spread every thought that crosses their mind on some kind of media. WE are the people who need to learn when to simply NOT say that if we don’t want people to know about it!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I keep wondering why people think our information IS private. At least three or four times a year, some hacker hits a major server or is discovered to have “abused” our personal data. And yet people still think our information is private. Why? Baffles me.

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    1. What they do with it is disturbing, but that so many people seem to be willing to be easily manipulated and so no research of their own — to me — if much worse. If you are basically skeptical and need to know answers, NO ONE can mess with your head.

      Seriously, was there ever a chance that the crap on social media was going to sway your vote? I would doubt it. Garry and I are impervious to it. Most people we consider friends are also thinkers and researchers and for a long time, that was normal for Americans. Now, apparently not.

      That is deeply disturbing.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I think what worries ME most is that there really are so many people so easily swayed by nonsense. Who aren’t interested enough in the world they live in to bother getting any information for themselves. THAT is scary.

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  5. I agree with you, Marilyn. I’ve long since given up worrying about privacy. At one time it was probably important, but ages ago when stores introduced the “points” system, it became apparent they were monitoring our purchases. Today you click on anything on the net and suddenly you’re bombarded with ads pertaining to said interest by said company. It’s pretty ludicrous to think you have privacy today. Probably never, but with the advent of the internet, it’s simply easier to access info about anyone anywhere anytime by those with an interest.

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    1. I worked for a couple of years in a data mining software company. I learned much too much about data mining and that was maybe 20 years ago. That was when I realized it was hopeless. Whatever we thought was private, wasn’t. I hope people are not so naive that they don’t realize every credit card or bank card purchase is monitored … and all that information is for sale. Privacy really IS a myth.

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      1. It is indeed! About the only problems that could arise if you want to kill a prominent individual like “agent orange”. You’d have someone knocking on your door pretty dang quick I’d think. I imagine gov. only monitors what they consider threats, the rest is for sale to the highest bidder. I always wonder what people thought made FB’s owner a billionaire? It wasn’t your little clicks on the page, that may have indicated the number of users our there, but he sold that info for big bucks. So do any other social media accounts.

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        1. That’s what all those “discount” cards are about. Every time you use one, it adds all your purchases and your personal data to one more data file that is for sale to anyone who can pay the price.

          I think a lot of people have no clue about what makes FB or Twitter so successful. They think it’s traffic. It IS traffic, but it’s also what the traffic does. If you use social media but never click any of the ads, you aren’t helping their cause. Some Facebook games will stop letting you play if you don’t advertise them in your feed.

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          1. That’s absolutely true. I’m down to a couple of card games now, lol as a result of refusing to click on their crappy ads ..no skin off my nose, I can always find other games elsewhere. If the ads continue, I simply wont play games, simple!

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            1. I dumped the games that wouldn’t let me continue to play unless I posted when I played, so I quit. Some games are much worse than others. Other than Farm Town which I’ve been playing forever, I’ve dumped bunches of them.

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  6. Uh, what? Facebook was hacked? Well…um. I need to digest that. It’s not that I don’t think Facebook could be hacked, it probably could. By someone 12. It’s the sheer magnitude of WHY? that overwhelms me. Ever since I watched “Enemy of the State”, I’ve really wanted to live off grid. Could I do that? Not on your nelly. A side effect of the internet that nobody talks about, but which is glaringly evident, is the addiction factor.

    I also ‘think’ I’m blogging anonymously, but someone probably could find out my info if they were motivated. Luckily my life is so dull, why would anyone bother? I don’t have a lot of money, I’m not famous…no point in looking me up. Unless someone wants a bedtime read..

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    1. I consider our dullness a major asset. We don’t do anything that anyone could consider threatening — at least not any more. When Garry was working, we had to be very careful about what we said and to whom. But now? We’re financially strapped senior citizens. There is nothing less interesting than us.

      Yeah, anyone can get any information if they want it. I consider it lucky that no one wants mine.

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  7. This page won’t come up. Claims it can’t be found?

    Maybe this is a result of that violated privacy issue in discussion here. I know that not long after I subscribed to Facebook, I regretted it. I thought it was way too invasive, but was amazed at how willing people were to share their every daily moves with others. As a result, I don’t take part in Facebook much at all.

    Me

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    1. It went up a few minutes later. I clicked publish before I finished writing the piece, so I took it back down, finished it, then posted in 20 minutes later. You must have gotten the first draft 🙂 WordPress really needs to put a “Are you sure?” to go with the “publish” button. I hit it often when all I’m trying to do is save the piece.

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  8. I have known that there was no privacy; that to be off the grid meant giving up all the little perks we take for granted each time we shop online, email, blog, or post on Facebook, see our doctors, etc.. Before there was an online, we had no privacy either – no matter how much the powers that be assured us that we were safe from prying eyes. Spending time in the hospital convinced me that there is no modesty left either…lol My white shiney butt was shown on a regular biases – and I am sure that in some report somewhere, it is pictured in all it’s blinding whiteness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stays in the hospital tend to make you feel like that. Various parts of me I’m sure are in a million medical text books. Not just me but all of us. And my husband was on TV for 31 years, so you gotta figure he’s all over the place. I have been a writer forever and I’m published in a lot of places, many of which I no longer remember. I remember when I was a kid, my parents used to whisper about their political affiliations because McCarthy was hunting for them.

      Personally, I think we are still being hunted and that’s very scary.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Marilyn, what a sad and terrifyingly true post and great comments too. I follow the US ‘history’ more than I should and more than is good for me – my mind boggles so often as I wouldn’t have thought it possible to live in such a hx.l of ‘oh heck, I can’t even write it’….
    The latest break of any remaining trust really scarred me. I’m only thankful that there is absolutely nothing in my life of any interest to any government – or so I believe! 😉
    All the best to you.

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    1. Governments spy on citizens. It’s not an if, it’s only a matter of “discovery.” These “scandals” — I’ve seen them in England and Switzerland and Germany … everywhere they aren’t supposed to occur. The easiest way to deal with them is be dull. I work at dullness. Anything I might want to say that might be have one of those buzzwords “they” (read “government spy groups”) might look for — those are for personal, one-on-one conversations. It doesn’t pay to be conspicuous unless you are willing to pay the price for it. I’m too old for the lockup. My various ailments alone would probably kill me in a week, so I’m careful.

      I suppose it would be more shocking if it weren’t so normal. The only difference between now and 2000 years ago is the technology, but village snitches weren’t bad at getting the gossip to the the paymasters and when the world was smaller, you didn’t need that many snitches. A couple of them — one in the pub (or whatever it was called) and another in some area of local government and you could get everything from everyone in a day or two.

      The good news: you really don’t interest anyone much. The bad news? They are watching you and will always be watching you and it’s not only not better overseas — it’s actually worse. England has the most spy cameras of any country in the world and the Swiss aren’t bad either. The size of this country makes it harder to watch everyone, so keep you head down and try not to think about it. That’s pretty much what we do!

      Liked by 1 person

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