The Internet Isn’t Free!

Episode three of The Virtual Revolution explains that while the Internet is free of financial charge to users worldwide, there is a cost that must be paid by users in the form of privacy, personal space, and identity. Google, for example, has redefined what privacy and personal space is for its email services. When a Gmail user sends an email, Google scans said email and matches keywords that the emailer typed to specific advertisements that may be of interest to the emailer. The exchange here is that while the Gmail user is able to connect with others via email, he or she is giving up information in the form of keywords that may be private and personal. Like Google, Facebook often taps into peoples’ personal space and privacy in order to gather information on its users. In addition to this, however, Facebook redefines what a person’s Internet identity is. In the 1990s people often would make their own personalized web pages, identifying themselves with whatever information they decided to share. Facebook, on the other hand, has caused its users to identify themselves through relationship statuses, favorite movies or books, family members, etc. In 1995 a teenage girl’s identity on her webpage may have been dog lover and aspiring actress, but on Facebook in 2016 her identity may be wrapped up in who she’s dating, where she lives, and in her political identification. 

The Internet is a technological advancement that has furthered education and has crossed social boundaries, but there are inherent risks brought by the web that threaten personal space, privacy, and who we are. Trojans and cookies allow businesses and other Internet users to access information that one may put on the Web, even unknowingly. Through searches done on the web, whether it be through Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other search engine, people give away personal information to a multitude of corporations, companies, and perhaps even individuals. There are inherent risks that abound on the web that threaten our personal space, privacy, and who we are, but one can say that the cost of the free web is minimal to the benefits that are reaped.

Check out the video here!


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