Saturday, October 23, 2021
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Facebook, Eric Garner and Privacy

Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about doing something I thought I would never do: delete Facebook. I have lived all over the country and use it to keep in touch with friends. I assumed that Facebook would start to disappear like Myspace and a new social media outlet would take over, but I do not know if I want to wait til then to get rid of Facebook.

Recently, I have been listening to “The Circle” by Dave Eggers on audiobook, which got me thinking about social media, privacy and the world we live in. The idea of transparency — no secrets, everyone knows everything — runs throughout the book. This ultimately leads to deterrence from crime, checks against the abuse of power and a better society. Yet, I wonder if this is such a great idea. In a perfect world, this makes sense: decreased crime rates, honest politicians and no more lies. Then I look at the news, specifically at the grand jury decision in New York in regard to the death of Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who died after being put restrained with a chokehold.

In that case, the incident was transparent. We have video and audio footage and saw what happened, but the officer did not get indicted. There appears to be little reason why the officer is not facing trial—for the record, the police officer also had prior race-related civil lawsuits.

If we are beginning to live in a society where everything is recorded, then what is the point of social media, body cameras, security cameras and other things that track and record our lives if they do not benefit society? The only logical conclusion I see is for oppression. In September, nude photographs were stolen from celebrities’ phones via the iCloud and released on the Internet, and in October, hackers took thousands of Snapchat photographs from a third party app. Reputations were destroyed and privacy was infringed upon.

You may say this will not happen to you. You may disregard this notion. However, you cannot deny that more and more personal information is being put onto the web. People post their whereabouts via Foursquare, talk about preferences in Yelp and go on pointless rants on Facebook. All this collected information — in an effort to try not to sound too conspiracy theory oriented — can be turned against users. Pretty soon all privacy will disappear and there will be no closed doors. Remember Scientia potentia est (knowledge is power). The more knowledge people have about you, the more power they have over you.

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