The World Wide Web
Ever since we acquired the ability to easily and instantly share our lives with others over the Internet, there have been stories of inappropriate and mistaken sharing. From harmless cases like that of Randi Zuckerberg, to those with grevious consequences like that of Denise Helms, the tales abound.
There are even shamefully illicit stories, as in the cases of Slooshi and Murderalph who mistakenly shared live video feeds of... well, stuff that should be kept private to say the least. So as we begin 2013, I do believe everyone needs a little reminder to keep us from making such mistakes.
Those three w's that begin every URL, stand for something very important: World Wide Web - and every time you see a URL, you should be reminded of just that. You should be reminded that everything at this web address is now available World-Wide.
Forget about your Facebook privacy settings, and that convoluted password to your personal blog. Forget about your locked tweets, and your private eHarmony profile. These things while helpful, cannot keep your information completely private. Better stated: it is in your best interest to assume they do not.
We are now in the information age, where a person's data is a valuable commodity. Retailers want to know what you buy, where you buy, and how you buy, so that they can get you to buy more; Travel agencies want to know where you go, how you go, and how often you go, so that they can get you to fly more; and employers want to know what you've done, what you now do, and how well you do it, so that they can pay you ~more~ less. Thus, just about everyone wants your information! and whether you like it or not, you're putting some of it out there every time you do anything online.
But that doesn't stop you, does it? And in fact, it shouldn't stop you. What's the big deal if your travel agent knows you go back to your country every so often, or your local grocery store knows you only shop there on weekends. It's probably better for both of you to know these things. The problem only comes when you put out information, and expect privacy/anonymity.
Take a look at this gawker article about what you may need to stay truly anonymous when leaking information to them. It's slightly technical, but the bottom line is this: once information is transferred over the net, there are many ways to trace its source... and I'm sure you're all familiar with Google and how if you're willing to look long enough, you can find out anything you want.
Now, this causes a few people to go 180° and take every precaution possible to keep all their information private, but this in my opinion is unnecessary. The Internet is your friend. The mistake, is thinking that it's your confidant.
See, all of us have categories of friends. Even categories of best friends. We know those we confide in, and we know those in whom we don't. We have friends who we are completely ourselves with, and we have friends with whom we're not.
It may be because you hang out with the Internet all the time, that you sometimes forget what kind of friend you're with. Because it's in your home, on your phone, and at your job, you may forget that it is a loud mouth. That it exists to tell everyone, everything, it sees and hears.
But as long as you remember that it is a loudmouth, there is nothing to fear. So whether you are like me, and decide to treat the net like a best friend, or whether you feel it's your enemy, always assume that whatever you show or tell the Internet, will be shown and told to the whole world. Because it is, after all, the world wide web.