Natasha Douglas: Do you feel safe online? It’s not a trick question. Honestly, do you feel safe and secure when using various social media and music streaming websites and applications? I know I did, but there is so much I didn’t know about online privacy. It is much harder to protect your privacy online then what may be commonly thought. It’s not as simple as setting your Facebook profile to private and changing your settings to “friends only.”
Want to listen to music? Sounds like fun? But is it? Do you know what information your music streaming application is gathering? Do you know why? Are you shocked? Are you intrigued? Then you’ve come to the right place. I’m Natasha Douglas and along with my co-host Khalila De Grasse, we’ll be answering all of these questions, addressing multiple concerns in terms of privacy and more. Welcome to inQUERY.
Natasha Douglas: What forms of social media do you use?
Karen Muere: I use facebook, snapchat and instagram.
Karl Douglas: Social media that I usually use are twitter, Instagram, but the main social media that I usually use is YouTube. I like YouTube a lot, I like to watch videos and all that.
Eric Hamilton: Well I have a Facebook account, twitter, Instagram. I used to have tumblr, I don't really use it anymore, and I just recently got soundcloud.
Natasha: On those applications, are you aware of their privacy policies?
Eric: I’m aware of a few of them, like the ones that even a lot of people don't know about like the ones where they keep your pictures and stuff like that, but a lot of them, no, I don't know, I don't read the...I know a lot of people don't read the terms, I'm one of those people.
Karen: I'm not really aware of them at all. I don't read it when it comes up and I don't read it if they change any of the terms or the policies or whatever, I just skim through it and pretty much just press accept, like most people would.
Natasha: And do you have any privacy settings on those applications?
Eric: Well, for example my Facebook is public, twitter... most of them are public except for my Instagram which is private I believe.
Karen: On my Facebook I do, so, my photo albums, some of them are kept private and others are public. And even searching my name for Facebook, that's pretty much private, but my Instagram is pretty much public, I just kept that public. And snapchat, I think you can only add me through phone numbers or if you search up my name, which you wouldn't really know because that s kind of weird.
Natasha: And do you feel safe and secure with those privacy settings?
Karen: I guess so because I don't really know what they are so...it hasn't really affected me in any way so I kind of just leave it.
Eric: Well, I generally post whatever I want except for incriminating stuff. Mostly my family, I don't really post my nieces anymore because I know you can just snatch and grab whatever photo you want and use it. So I'm cautious, but not too cautious
Natasha Douglas: Khalila, what do you think online privacy is?
Khalila De Grasse: There is no privacy. The Internet connects us with thousands of people all across the globe and we as people live in this bubble where we think we’re protected when we aren’t. If I go on Facebook for about 1 hour, I can find so much information on people that probably they didn’t think a person like me would have access to. We integrated technology into our every day lives, people take videos of themselves when they go out, when they’re on the bus. People take pictures of their plane tickets when they go away. We use technology to connect every single day, so no; to me there is no privacy.
Natasha: Okay but lets look at the actual definition. Techopedia states that Internet privacy, also known as online privacy, “is the privacy and security level of personal data published via the Internet. It is a broad term that refers to a variety of factors, techniques and technologies used to protect sensitive and private data, communications, and preferences”
Now let’s think about how essential technology and social media has become. It is a necessary part of our everyday lives despite the fact that social media is a form of pervasive technology. But what does that even mean? Pervasive technology “often leads to unintended consequences, such as threats to privacy and changes in the relationship between public and private sphere” (Debatin et al.).
There are so many concerns when it comes to our privacy online that everyday people don’t even think about it. Listen to this: “Specific privacy concerns of online social networking include inadvertent disclosure of personal information, damaged reputation due to rumors and gossip, unwanted contact and harassment or stalking, surveillance-like structures due to backtracking functions, use of personal data by third-parties, and hacking and identity theft” (boyd & Ellison, 2008).
Khalila: That’s insane. But think about it, in terms of privacy and the way things are being used, we should realize by now that we can’t expect to have everything remain ours. Every photo and video you post on Snapchat may only be viewable for 3-10 seconds or 24 hours on your story, but Snapchat stores all of their videos and pictures on their server. Facebook owns every single photo you upload, including posts to Instagram since they own it now too. Even ISIS has managed to use a PlayStation to communicate with each other to plan their “missions”.
Natasha: It’s still unclear whether or not a PlayStation was actually used as a form of communication, but there are so many options with this console, including, according to Forbes.com, “sending messages through the PlayStation Network (PSN) online gaming service and voice-chatting, and even communicating through a specific game” (Paul Tassi).
Khalila: But remember, we also have to look at it like this, why would a company not take our information? If anything were to happen, such as, we get bullied, your ex posts a nude photo of you after you break up, literally the list goes on. We contact the site, and we have to ask them to take it down. But they have to also cooperate with the police and with the government they have to look out for their own interests as well. You can’t expect them not collect your information, as they don’t know who you are and whether or not you’re a criminal. The information they collect can also be used to protect us even though it may be invasive. Take Amanda Todd for example.
Natasha: Wait, what happened to Amanda Todd? Who is she and what happened?
Khalila: Amanda Todd was a victim of cyber bullying. She was in high school and she met someone online via Facebook. She ended up taking a nude photo for that person who then began to exploit her and basically torment her within her everyday life.
A year later the person sent it to everyone in her school, and if that wasn’t bad enough, she began to get bullied by people at school. Her classmates started to treat her funny and called her names to the point that she moved schools. That same person found her again and started tormenting her at her new school, she had no friends, some classmates beat her up, and she couldn't escape it at home or at school. She tried drinking bleach but was saved at the last minute.
Months later, Amanda Todd put up a video on YouTube explaining her story and then unfortunately, took her own life. The person tormenting her was using a fake Facebook account.
(For more information regarding cyber bullying, visit https://stephanie-bell-m08b.squarespace.com/blog-season1/7acb262d-473e-418b-83b9-4fb91bc44f0b)
Natasha: In this case, Facebook and its invasive tendencies were actually helpful. “Anything you do on Facebook is seen and gathered by Facebook, and creeping on people is no exception. Facebook specifically tracks all clicks done within its platform in order to better tailor an experience for the user” (Lauren Hockenson).
Khalila: Together, in connection with Facebook, Amanda Todd’s parents were able to uncover suspects in connection to their daughter’s harassment.
Natasha: There is clearly a benefit to social media sites having access to multiple forms of information. But I am not a criminal and Facebook still tracks every click I make while using their site and have an uncomfortable amount of access to my personal information. Consider this, you decide to attend an event and RSVP on Facebook.
Khalila: Seems harmless enough, I do that all the time.
Natasha: It’s not so harmless according to Lauren Hockenson. She brings a lot of information to light in her article, “7 Big Privacy Concerns for New Facebook and the Open Graph.”
She states that, “Companies can sponsor particular Facebook actions, called ‘stories,’ that double as advertising for a brand. However, this also means that your information could be used as an advertisement for another brand. ‘Sponsored Stories’ are a possibility every time you like a brand or location or respond positively to a public event. When you do this, companies can tap into your friends and let them know that you like or are attending an event — with the hopes of getting them involved, too. Liking a brand or attending its event automatically makes your information available for brand ambassadorship, and you can become an advocate for the event or the brand without implicitly signing up” (Hockenson).
Khalila: But Facebook isn’t the only one with privacy issues. Music streaming services have also changed their settings when it comes to privacy and one in particular raising issues is Spotify.
Natasha: But before we get into the issues concerning music streaming companies, lets first define streaming.
Khalila: Streaming is “a technology used to deliver content—usually audio and video, but increasingly other kinds as well—to computers and mobile devices over the Internet” (Sam Costello).
Natasha: Streaming music is a simple process in general. You can access music through numerous sites, including Apple Music, Pandora, Songza, YouTube, etc. You visit the website, choose a song or album, and the music plays without a problem.
Khalila: But there is a problem when your simple desire to listen to music becomes an issue of non-consensual information gathering and privacy violation. If I want to listen to Justin Bieber’s new album on Spotify, why does this application feel the need to collect my contact information as well as my location?
Karen Muere: No. I'm not...
Eric Hamilton: You know, I did hear about that policy but I'm not too concerned about it since I know that they don't do anything without your permission, so they say, so, I trust them.
Karl Douglas: Not at all.
Natasha: Now what information is Spotify collecting, and what are they using it to do? According to a blog post Spotify CEO Daniel EK posted, these are a few examples of the information that is collected, when it is used and why it is being collected.
1. Your specific location: We will never gather or use your specific device location without first getting your explicit permission. This information enables us to create collaborative listening experiences (only with others who have also given permission), and to provide even better recommendations about locally popular music, live venues, and concerts.
2. Your contacts: We will never scan or import your contacts unless you ask us to. If you choose to do so, we will only use your contact information to help you find friends or contacts who use Spotify.
Natasha: We naïvely want to feel safe online despite all the reasons we are given not to.
Khalila: Exactly! Natasha, you cover the camera on your computer with a sticky, why do you do that?
Natasha: I cover the camera on my laptop with a sticky because there are so many people out there that can hack your computer. Without your knowledge, someone could be watching you via your own device. This is a device that I should feel safe owning, but the truth of the matter is, I cover my camera because I don’t feel safe on my computer, or on the Internet, without it.
Khalila: There are still so many concerns in terms of our online presence and what is, or isn’t being recorded and documented, so much that there isn’t enough time in this podcast to cover it all.
Natasha: You’re right Khalila, but if you want to learn more about music streaming, social media and online privacy, I encourage you to research the topic. It’s both fascinating and informative. That’s our show. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of…
Khalila and Natasha: inQUERY!
Boyd, D., & Ellison, N. B. (2008). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13
Costello, Sam. 'What Is Streaming And When Do You Use It?'. About.com Tech. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Debatin, Bernhard et al. 'Facebook And Online Privacy: Attitudes, Behaviors, And Unintended Consequences'. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 15.1 (2009): 83-108. Web.
Ek, Daniel. 'SORRY.'. News. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Forbes.com,. 'Forbes Welcome'. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Hockenson, Lauren. '7 Big Privacy Concerns For New Facebook And The Open Graph'. Mashable. N.p., 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Nobullying.com,. 'The Amanda Todd Story|Nobullying|'. N.p., 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
Techopedia.com,. 'What Is Internet Privacy? - Definition From Techopedia'. N.p., 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.