Internet. Presumably the one defining word to account for the functioning of practically the entire world. Pretty much everyone under the age of 70 engages in this multi-purpose and universal creation. Whether you are e-mailing, Facebooking, Googling, Youtubing, blogging, chatting or promoting a business (the list goes on and on), everything you do is exchanged, and becomes subject to exposure for approximately 6.9 billion people.
I bet it doesn’t occur to you that every time you log on to Facebook, you are engaging in the circumstance where 26 percent of teens know someone that something bad has happened to because of information or photos posted online (Enough.org). I make this assumption because it doesn’t occur to me either. Although, apparently I am one of those people who actually faces the consequences.
A few days ago I found out from a friend that someone had created a fake Facebook using a picture of me as their default. It’s just one picture, with some random name. Apparently it has been there since August. The page barely had any activity on it, but the scary part is, the hometown was my hometown. They just changed the birthday by a couple of years. Then, they changed the town to Manchester. Oh, how clever right? I concluded the person obviously either knows who I am, or has seen my profile (in this case, unfortunately, those two factors can mean the same thing).
The first thing that comes to mind is, “Oh, well from now on I’ll just keep everything on private.” The truth is, the person who made the profile could have already been one of my Facebook friends that saved a picture of me and then created another Facebook, being sure not to add me. Why would a person do that? Who knows? Maybe it’s to “creep” other peoples’ lives without exposing their identity, or maybe it’s to take the identity of someone to compensate for the resentment of their own. Either way, they are sick in the head.
My reaction to the situation was to tell everyone to report the person. That might not work, but what else can you do? Send them a nasty message, sure, but you’re only feeding into the person’s game. I felt as if my life was violated because it’s scary that it’s that easy for someone to just claim your appearance. If anything, I was angry. Everyone has a reputation to fulfill, and this circumstance was like the opening of a gateway to false assumptions.
Now, the solution to the problem of “friends” saving your pictures could be simple–just don’t add people you’re not familiar with.
Let’s be honest. Do you actually personally know and trust over 1,000 people? I know I don’t, but the sad thing is, that’s close to the number of Facebook friends I have. Why do I accept people I don’t exactly know? I don’t know the answer to that any more than I know the people I add. Maybe it’s because I see that the mutual friends are people I’m personally friends with, or they don’t look suspicious, or maybe it’s because I have some subconscious motive to keep up with the amount of “friends” most people actually have on Facebook. You figure, the more the merrier, right?
Well the truth is, you can’t trust anyone. We all know that, but we don’t apply it. To be honest, I’m not even 100 percent sure how to manipulate my privacy settings. I guess that’s pretty naive and irresponsible. But who’s to blame? Heck, let’s face it–if you want to be safe, you have to keep your life off the Internet. But in today’s world, that clearly isn’t an option; if you want to be socially or professionally constructive that is.
The reality is, everything we say and do can be stolen, replicated, used and interpreted in whatever way it’s manipulated to be. One picture, just one, is up for grabs for anyone who stumbles across it. It doesn’t matter if everything is set to “private” or not. The only thing I can say is be careful what you publish. It could be at the hands of a person across the world, or right next to you.