March 24, 2023

Whether people are using social media, a website for school or work, email or Google search, internet privacy is a major concern.

Vox, a news website, posted an article that told its audience what they know about privacy in an effort to spread awareness to the public about how much access people give to others when they use any form of social media.

In this article, Vox told its audience that just by clicking on the link that led them to their article, they already know what type of device is being used, what browser is being used, the activity on the site and on the browser and the location based on the device’s IP address. This is just from clicking a link. A website takes it one step further when it asks to accept cookies.

Asking for permission to use cookies on a device is a way for  websites to forgo a data privacy protection law known as the General Data Protection Regulation, which was enacted in May 2018.

By allowing cookies, users are allowing information such as their name, user ID, browsing history, personal preferences, settings, log-in information, online identifications, personal data such as phone number and address and shopping cart to be seen. 

Essentially, everything that the user has done on the internet on that device is now available to that website.

Aubrey Scott, software engineer at HAPO Credit Union, said she thinks privacy is increasingly more difficult to maintain as technology advances.

“Technology is constantly advancing,” Scott said. “Something technology can’t do today could be accomplished by tomorrow. There are always new routes that website hosts can take to find out the information needed. The best bet is to play it safe. Assume everything you have ever and will ever put online will always remain there because truth be told, that information can be accessible in some way forever once it’s sent, published or posted.”

According to the Pew Research Center, most Americans value their privacy, even as online presence continues to grow in popularity. 

Survey results show 90% of participants think the information that is collected about them is important and should not be easily accessible.

Alina Filkowski, junior psychology major, said she is unsure about putting her information online.

“It’s scary to think that people can find information about you that you don’t know they have,” Filkowski said. “Especially since nowadays everything is linked to something else, making it easier to get hacked. My Facebook is linked to my Venmo, so if my Facebook was hacked, essentially my credit card information could get stolen from my Venmo, too.”

Lindsey Monroe, sophomore nursing student, points out a few ways to lessen the possibility of getting information stolen.

“Don’t accept cookies or click on pop-ups on computers,” Monroe said. “Don’t store your usernames and passwords in your laptop’s storage either, (because) if someone stole it, they could find all of that. Also, if a website seems illegitimate, don’t click it or scroll through it. It could give your device a virus.”

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