How private can your profile be?

In this day and age, social media is almost a necessity for the average teenager; however, this increase in social media raises concerns, specifically for the privacy of teenagers and young children.

“When someone puts their private information out there, you are always subject to having that information hacked, shared or viewed,” said Carol Gudbrandsen, cyber crimes analyst with the Lake County States Attorney Office.

Many companies are aware of the privacy risks that come with social media and have their own security measures and privacy policies, but that does not ensure that private information is entirely secure.

“Even companies that try to protect your private information have security breaches that can expose your information. That is your private data, and by turning it over to another company, you relinquish control of that data,” Gudbrandsen said.

Many people have been hacked while using social media and their private data has been exploited. Facebook is known for its controversy and court trials about privacy violations, specifically for the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal where political figures used the personal data of millions of users for targeted advertising campaigns.

“Cambridge Analytica used personal data to help conservative campaigns target online advertising and messaging,” Iga Kozlowska wrote in the academic article “Facebook and Data Privacy in the Age of Cambridge Analytica.” “It is precisely at this point of data transfer from psychologist Dr. Aleksandr Kogan to other third parties like Cambridge Analytica that Dr. Kogan violated Facebook’s terms of service, which prohibit the transfer or sale of data ‘to any ad network, data broker or other advertising or monetization-related service’.”

Facebook is a more prominent company that has used people’s data to make money, whether intentionally or otherwise, but there are other companies and organizations using people’s profiles and information in the public domain for another’s benefit. The most recent case of this is Clearview AI, a company that works closely with police departments to watch for criminals and predators online.

According to their website, “Clearview helps to exonerate the innocent, identify victims of child sexual abuse and other crimes, and avoid eyewitness line-ups that are prone to human error.”

Online privacy is still a controversial issue, as it is difficult to define what belongs to the public domain, what is a public image, and what images are private and unable to be used.

“I believe it is a good rule to not put your private information in any accounts online, especially social media accounts,” Gudbrandsen said.