High Point University

How much personal information do you have on the internet?

Personal information is not safe on the internet. Photo by Aspiringgentleman.com

By Ally Ortolani

Opinion Editor

There have been several recent scandals and controversies surrounding Facebook. One would think that this would push more people to reconsider how much of their personal information the general public can access.

With a quick Google search, anyone can find your public information, or even information that even you are not aware of. It is not a challenge for a stranger to discover your name, email, phone number, photos and more.

This poses the question: how much of our information should we allow for general consumption?

Upon searching myself on Google, I immediately could access nearly all of my social media accounts. My Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were on full display with multiple photographs from my adolescence. My likes and dislikes on Facebook, where I went to high school and even where I attend college are all things strangers can read about me.

I am guilty of being a user of nearly every social media platform. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, VSCO, Reddit and others. You name a social media platform, and I am most likely on it. While I am no longer an active user on most platforms, I would attest that I have developed a significant online footprint.

Perhaps I am naïve to the seriousness of privacy concerns. Should I be allowing the website to have access to my phone number and address? To be completely honest, I forget which websites I gave access to my contact information. I automatically click “agree” when I am asked if I consent to share my information. I do not even stop to read the terms and conditions. In hindsight, that was a bad play on my part.

While I am aware of the content that is found online, it is up there forever. Nothing can be deleted. Period. And trust me, my parents have ingrained this deeply into my head from a young age.

As someone who has aspired to become a lawyer, being mindful of my online presence is of the utmost importance. Furthermore, I have to be mindful of how I present myself since I also represent my sorority.

Numerous people across all ages face countless privacy risks when allowing social media platforms or other websites to access, what at least should be, private information. This brings up an important question: why do we allow these websites and social media platforms to access this said information? Why do we automatically click “agree” upon being asked to read the terms and conditions of whichever website?

Those who share an overabundance of information on the internet also face a risk with potential job employers. According to Business News Daily, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.

DeeAnn Sims, founder of SPBX, says, “Because we tend to view our social media accounts as being ‘personal,’ there’s a good chance that by viewing someone’s profile, you will get a glimpse into their personality beyond the resume.”

Others most become cognizant of the information they post online. What could people think of them? I have come to ask myself what could others think of me, especially with my outspoken political views? Should I be more silent about issues I care about?

Social media, as well as the internet, are both beneficial and harmful. They promote a sense of connectivity amongst users, but could that sense of connectivity be considered a form of “pseudo connectivity?” Perhaps, yes.

The important thing to remember is to be aware of your online presence, because you never know what could come back and haunt you.