The Psychology of Living In A Data-Driven World

– Hey, did you get those pictures I sent you? You didn’t share ’em online or anything, did you? You shared ’em. He shared ’em. Apps, they’re so useful, aren’t they? Social media, helps you keep in touch with everybody. The Cloud, makes sure you’re connected with your work, as long as you have an internet connection. Because of the utility of all these things, people sometimes overlook the most important aspect, data privacy and transparency. I’m not talking about the big stuff, like your healthcare or wire taps, or financial information, there’s legislation that protects that.

Maybe you’ve heard of HIPPA, ECPA, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. I’m talking about all the stuff that you willingly post online. The comments, the likes, the re-tweets. What about that personal information that you willingly give up to be able to use your favorite application. What happens to all that stuff? How is it used? Is it safe? There’s no doubt about it. People upload tons of stuff to the internet. We live in the post-Snowden world. So it’s understandable why so many of us want our online business to stay private.

We’re even more local about it. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 93% of adults want to have control over who can access information about them. But once you post your social security number on a medical site, or post a couple of pictures on Instagram, you may lose that control. In theory, it’s possible to delete your data from the internet, but it’s easier said than done. When you click the delete button on a website, you don’t actually delete the data yourself. You only remove the data from the online site.

Most apps, databases, and even hard drives, only mark the data as deleted instead of actually deleting it. In fact, the data stays in the sites database until someone deletes it manually. Think about all the pictures and texts you’ve uploaded in the past few years. How many applications have you signed up for? How many times have you given up personal information? Google yourself right now. I bet your address shows up in the first page of Google searches. So, want it or not, your stuff’s out there.

How does that make you feel? Just about anyone can look you up and find out something. Things didn’t used to be this way 15 years ago. You’d have to hire some kind of private eye to follow someone around if you needed information. Yay internet. Am I right? Anyway, the point of this episode is not to scare you. I just want to talk about the exchange that we have here, and how it affects the way we interact with each other and with businesses. What’s the trade-off? Your data for your voice. Let’s keep exploring this idea.

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