The Privacy Paradigm – Illusion or Goal

An interesting evening at ADM on “Do you really want to end up in court because of social media” just showed us – again – on how social media/new media are challenging traditional privacy paradigm, legal issues, corporate policies, …. Looking through legal glasses you better keep away from social media, since most things you do could get you end up in court; Did you get permission from all the people on your photo’s to publish them online? Have you ever posted any update(s) that could discriminate your employer? Do you always ask permission from other people to use their quotes? …. And on the other side, have you ever read any legal notices before you agreed on using an APP? Do you always push ‘I confirm’ as I do? Knowing that you’ll probably give away all your data….Enough food for thought!

Giving your data for free is not so difficult today.  Most companies just ask you to confirm their terms of condition, and “boom” you give your permission to use (and sometimes give) your data to the APP or company behind this. Wether this is legal or not, isn’t completely relevant since 99% are just pressing “I confirm” without knowing what they are agreeing with! From a legal point of view this probably isn’t legal at all, and subjected to the privacy legislation…but who cares in “online country”.  Your data are probably kept on servers in China, USA and God know where else…so is this Belgian or EU law even enforceable?
BUT even more scary is that all the data (posts, comments, pictures, personal data, …) remains available for API developers and users, even when you thought you put it private or even deleted it!  This is one side of the problem…
On the other hand, you could wonder whether we haven’t given up our privacy 25 years ago with the introduction of bank cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, … and is this just the online version!

The second problem is far more subtile; using social media and social media awareness in your life. Let’s make our life simple: we have our private (or personal) life and our professional life. I know this is simplifying things, but it will show full perspective on the problem!
First of all ask check the following questions for your own life/company:

  • Do you have (free and full) internet access at your work?
    Are you allowed to use social media during your work – hours?
  • Do you have fixed working hours?
  • Does your job demand you to get in contact with other persons (inside or outside the company)?
  • Does your company have an Internet/Email/Social media policy? (all three, or only one or two of them?)
    Are you aware and informed of this policy?
  • Have you ever posted something (status update, pictures, …) that could connect you to your company or co-workers?

Back in the days (19th and early 20th century) it was easy, you had a working life and a private life which didn’t mix that often due to the nature of the work (blue-collar labour), but in the 21st century most labour isn’t blue-collar anymore.  White collar working has made it a lot easier for people to mix personal and professional life….mobile technological evolutions made “Bring Your Own Device” already a standard in a lot of companies, facilitating work whenever, where-ever and however….the 24/7 work status was born, but showed huge impact on our private life. Our private life is mixed through our professional life, thanks (?) to  technology (who uses two cell phones, two laptops, two tablets, …. to separate work from private?)  and organization (flexible working hours, (distance) working from home, ….). So this must lead into schizophrenic situations where on the one hand side you have your personal life (and opinion) but on the other hand are bound to company rules and secrecy….A ‘send’ or ‘status’ button is quickly pushed when your boss just gave an early scoop on tomorrows new product!
It’s quite difficult to separate your own personal life from your professional one thanks to the amplification of your message through your social graph. As long a you keep everything clean, and don’t mention where you work (never – ever, since all your date will remain traceable remember!) you have a good shot of staying under the radar, but most people are using their social media profile (whether its Facebook, LinkedIn or something else) for professional goals as well (…and you do so just by telling where you work and when you started working there). Recruitment through social media is booming business! But with this total interference of private and professional life we have given up our privacy as well!  Social media gives people the power to connect and share, which means basically giving up privacy. For this reason awareness around (social) media literacy needs to be the goal in every company and education program. The policy which is installed by your company is only a tool to help people be aware of the impact of this new (social) media evolution.

We all know legislation runs behind new trends, but I wonder whether this 19th century vision (and law) on privacy, copyrights, … is even understanding what 21st communication and interaction is all about.  What frightens me the most is that our politicians aren’t able to adapt to the legislation to this new sociological era…

One thing is for sure: Privacy has become a verb! You have got to work hard to maintain it!

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Posted in Flat Business, Flat Lifestyle, Flat Statement
47 comments on “The Privacy Paradigm – Illusion or Goal
  1. Anca Mihaela Scutaru says:

    I strongly believe that social media is like a maze: once you come in…you can not find out the way out. Moreover, you can never be perfect using social media. Perfect means to respect all those rules. I think it is really easy to fall in a trap. That”s why most people don”t think anymore at being ”perfect” and consequences if they are not. We just do what we want to. Unfortunately I am in this category,too. I know that I can not follow all the rules that social media has.

    • Benedikta Mathis says:

      Do you think that there are a lot of people who really want to find the way out????

      I think there is no “perfect” way to use social media referring to privacy and so on. If you a very open person you will share all of your staff online to everybody and I think you dont even look or are aware of some rules. If you are more a introverted personen you will look for such rules automatically.

      Some people are poser and extrovert with or without social media …..

  2. Lina Chaoui says:

    I think that social media is a very tricky place to be. If you can ending up in jail by sharing pictures of someone else is it actually very scary. I never read a legal notice. To much work, I don’t know. So actually it is your own fault, because you ‘know’ what you’re doing according to the company.

  3. jonashelsen says:

    We all know what is allowed by our friends/ connections. Posting something on facebook should be fun, not a mindblasting thing. When I use an app on FB, I also never read the terms. I just rely and trust the apps and the companies behind it. A mistake or…? And if you start thinking about it, what’s really safe on the internet. There are so many users who don’t even understand all those terms, legal notice,…

  4. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    When a few years ago the boom of social networks like messenger, tuenti, facebook or twitter began, privacy was my main concern.

    At first, I tried to avoid joining these different types of social media…But it didn’t last much. My life was taking place there and not joining them meant staying behind my own life: My friends started making plans through facebook; decisions about when and where to go and of course the “after-plan-picture and comments” about it…

    Right now, I am happily part of all of them. In my opinion there is only one big truth: “Adapt or die”. I have decided to adapt and I don’t regret it, all these tools properly used are full of benefits (talking for free with friends & family via skype, store all your files via dropbox, get an answer in less than one hour via your mail service, interact with people you admire through twitter… It is just amazing!).

    But there are also some threats and disadvantages and in my opinion privacy still remains as the most important one. Just through Facebook I can know a lot of things without knowing him or her before. Although I have no access to her profile, I see in one of my friends’ profiles that they went together to school or that they work in the same company….And although someone talks about his or her company without mentioning the company’s name, it is possible (and not very difficult) to know the company he or she is working in (i.e. check that person in LinkedIn). That is why I can understand that nowadays companies and some people are still very concerned about separating their private and professional life although it is becoming more and more difficult each time…

    For me, privacy is the other side of the coin, the one that we don’t want to share with everybody and right now keeping it at the same time that we are part of social media looks as an illusion to me.

  5. Hubinon Alicia says:

    When I read the article, something retained my attention: the privacy of workers relative to their business through tablets received by the firm.

    Indeed, my father is a representative for a big company and they wanted to « offer » to all their workers on field a new iPad. It aims to assist representatives in making order in direct relationship with the customer and eliminate the use of paper, save time.

    At the first beginning my father was quite exited about it, having a new « toy » and having less work in the evening for work. After talking about it to his colleagues he realized that he was almost the only person happy about it. According to the others, iPad could have a negative effect on their lives because as soon as you can have Internet anytime, everywhere, you will use your tablet to surf a little bit on Internet waiting for your customers/guests. But the major problem is that the company is able to know what you were doing, when, for what. They could also ask you why you did such things and request you to give them a good excuse. For instance, a representative could finish his work a little bit earlier or take two hours during the day to do something in another context that his job.

    Finally my father got it but try to use it in a smart way, few days ago he told me “Anyway, I have nothing to hide”.
    Let’s see how it goes on…

  6. Didier Van Hove says:

    Not that I have anything to hide also, but if I knew this like 10 years ago when I started using ‘the internet’ I would have been more careful, the things I all signed up for, the accounts on all different media I created, the stuff I posted, etc… . Not that is was of any importance, but just with a easy google search you can find a lot of these things back, or from friends if you search their names. And it may look harmless, but I’m not that much of a lover of the fact that you can find so many related items to one single person, it’s more like ‘every little step I take, every little step I make’ – to quote Bobby Brown’s classic – is being registered somewhere somehow and might be used against me in someway maybe one day by whom it may concern using it. And it’s not only that online register, the same goes for my bank account, I have access to all my transactions from the past ten years with just one click, I can see in detail when and where I bought something for which amount. I have the log files of my phone, tv-actions, … . I can even go to our public library and see what book I borrowed that particular day in the summer of ’98 if needed. With mobile phones, they can trace you back to every location, place you everywhere at every time and they cal always find out where you are at each moment. You just can go on and on with this, everywhere is something, how small and stupid it can be, and you just can’t erase it so easy like destroying a film negative a few decades ago or just burning it. We’ll just have to learn to live with the fact that we live in a world of global information, and being ‘monitored’ 24/7, like with the big brother effect, and just see what will come of all that. It might be less harmful as we think in the end.

  7. It’s amazing how often software-companies ask their clients to agree with terms and it’s absolutely shocking how long and unattractive they make these agreements. I cannot believe anyone ever takes the time to read them, I know I don’t…
    Especially the app’s on facebook and other social networking websites could potentially gain verry personal information, I should really pay more attention to what it is exactly I am agreeing to..

    P.S.: this post really made me think about a verry funny example about how seriously lifechanging the consequence’s of agreeing without having read the terms of condition might be:

  8. Shahin Koobasi says:

    I never really cared about how the internet can harm you privacy wise. I think I just follow the social web blindly without thinking. This article made me realise I should be more careful, specially later when you obtain a higher degree of responsibility in the job environment.
    Maybe then I can hire someone to read the long ‘terms of condition’ 😉

  9. adilkdg says:

    Im pretty sure i have never really read any term of agreements so far, its just a huge wall of text with uninteresting stuff. I think nobody really got time for that.
    i was not aware of the fact that companies really still could get that kind of information after deleting or putting it private.
    After reading this article i’ll try to be more aware of my privacy on the internet.
    Will this make me read the whole terms of agreement, i doubt it!

  10. Mª Teresa Poyo says:

    During the past two weeks people have gone crazy posting a message on teir facebook walls declaring that by doing so, facebook has no legal right to their content (pictures, comments, private messages…). Of course, as this video explains in a very funny way ( this kind of messages have NO binding effect. But in my opinion what this viral message shows is that people are actually worried about privacy

  11. Hans Francken says:

    It is offcource a bit frightening to think all our personal info is stored on a variety of locations we probably don’t know about. We also don’t know who has acces to this info. On the Internet, we should act like we are shouting in public. Everything we put online can be shared by others. Offcourse we should maintain our privavcy, but I think that if you really want something for yourself, you should not post/store it in online. I even think this new ‘open society’ can be quite interesting, being able to share what we think to an enormous audience is something we all thought about and it can provide a lot of oportunities and feedback on the way how we view things.

  12. Michal Kowalski says:

    As someone has already commented on this,few weeks ago a message posted widely on Facebook got viral. It was regarding the changes in privacy policy on our accounts. Unfortunately, posting this message on the wall didn’t have any legal power, but it raised awareness and it shows that people are getting concerned about what is being done with all the stuff they post on their walls,pictures,statuses etc.

    In my opinion even if we defend our privacy actively and try not to give too much information on the Web, big companies already have the info they needed or they will find a way to get it. A single human can’t really do much against the big corporations, whose only goal is to increase the revenue and they will do whatever it takes to achieve it.

  13. Lara G.F. says:

    After reading this article I realized how important it is to read the terms. But really like me, a lot of people do not read the terms because they are very large and they believe that read or not read it will not have an impact. But yes, you can have and can be very dangerous, because we truly believe that we have a private life, but this has made me realize that I do not have it, so from now, before accepting any terms, I will think twice.

  14. Recently i too was confronted with my facebook profile when applying for a job in the week-ends. That same day i checked my profile and was amazed with all the things i had liked, shared and been tagged in. I deleted a huge amount of things that put me in a bad light. I then realised that this didn’t happen on one day, but these were things from almost 3 years ago. I now know how quickly this can happen. I guess the same is for many other people, it has to happen to them before they realise what’s on the internet about them.
    And also i didn’t get the job…

  15. Jassin Uddin says:

    I think social media are not a major privacy treath as people might think. As long as you do not share any bank account numbers or passwords on the web there can be no real problem. In fact, putting discriminating words or pictures on the net should be punished, because they are often as strong as words especially when so many people can read it. What does concern me are the many pop-ups and banners that I receive simply by opening certain apps on Facebook. This spam should be removed from Facebook.

  16. Denis Vandepitte says:

    The south park episode: “the human centIpad”, actually got me thinking about the always agreeing the ‘terms of condition’. If agreeing is actually the same as signing a contract, companies could put things in these enormous texts to exploit users, and no one would even know until someone is standing in front of your door showing you what you agreed to. But let’s not give them ideas…

  17. petervankeer says:

    By googling a name(from a teacher e.g.) you can find ALOT of information about that person. How come? That person probably didn’t read privacy – policy – .. agreements when registering on a Social Media site.
    We (all) should start watching out what we do, what we (do not) read when being online. It could just all be used against you or any other people. Start acting now, and you (inclusive me) won’t regret it. It’s all for your future life..

  18. I have one Golden Rule. Everything I post on a social media site is posted while thinking: No matter what or where I post, Anyone could read this.

    And with this state of mind I’ll be happy to share everything in my life on twitter or facebook, as long as it doesn’t offend my Golden Rule.

    Staying home while faking being sick but posting on FaceBook you’re enjoying a day off isn’t that smart even if you’re not friends with your boss. It will fireback eventually.

  19. Bart Van Bosch says:

    Reading this article made me worry a little about my personal live. Would anyone use my photos for purposes I wouldn’t agree? The chance that is going to happen is very small but what if… When an organization is using information from my account on a social media site, then I prefer to be tipped about that case. You never know when enterprises are using a photo from you to make a study about it… Anyway, I will be more careful now I read all of this information.

  20. Kevin Velghe says:

    I think even though you submit to the terms and conditions of a website, you’re still responsible for the things you do or say. I fail to understand how people think they can post the stupidest things online, but perfectly know how to act in a corporate setting.

  21. Julien Garnier says:

    Privacy, privacy……..a word that we’ve all heard 1k times about internet, but only an utopia for me ! When you are on the internet whatever you can do it stays somewhere recorded. Of course in social medias you have to be aware of what you are doing for not offending yourself or the other i call this respect and that’s not a very new notion.
    The more scary thing is about the aimed mkg, everything that you look for thought the internet is recorded and then you can see some advertisement aiming you on some websites.
    And i haven’t spoke yet about the cookie logger ! The worst invention concerning the rape of your privacy. It’s so easy to steel from someone his cookie looger ! Most of the time there is no protection ! Then you can access to this person msn, gameaccount, and on all the website he is registered in !
    To conclude, you have to be aware that on the internet there is no privacy, even if you are connected through 100 proxies, we can always see what you do, find you and rape your privacy !

  22. pauwelsnick says:

    Privacy on social media is a thing that a lot of people forgot. Facebook use your information to send advertising to your profile. Facebook can see also all your website that you have been. Every site with a like button of Facebook can Facebook see who has been on this site. A lot of people don’t know that you can change your privacy settings and their start the problem. You have to be careful on social media and you have to change your settings!

  23. Monaa says:

    With social media you do need to watch out. Not everything is safe or private. The things you read like marriages ending because of Facebook are terrible. Although you choose it yourself because most people know you can adjust your privacy settings, so why don’t they do it then? Only thing I can say is do be carefull with the things you do on the web. After all it isn’t so safe as you think.

  24. Max Heylen-Buelens says:

    Social Media just became a part of our lives, and it gets more and more important. Even in our professional lives we have to use them. I also believe that the increase of the importance of these media had an impact on the boundries of privacy. Everyone is or should be aware of the fact that when you start using social media, your privacy level will harshly fall. Even if with the ‘strict conditions and settings’.

  25. The Internet was meant to be a place for scientists to interchange data and findings about various subjects.
    Ever since then it has expanded to where it finds its way into our everyday life and where everyone is able to share everything they do.
    This however is not an excuses for companies or anyone else to take advantage of all the data that is out there, but as with everything else there will
    always be someone who hasn’t got the right intentions or wants to harm others with what they do. However if you always begin your reasoning with that in mind,
    do I really need to share this? Do I really want this on the internet forever?, then you’ll have a lot more privacy because you protect yourself from making mistakes.
    You are never forced to sign in and/or sign any sort of ToS so if you don’t read them and your data gets sold to outsiders, it is your own fault.

  26. Annelies Mampaey says:

    The day that you open an Internet browser, your privacy is gone. Every site you’re ever been has information of you. It’s really scary when you think about that. People never read the conditions, me neither. I have no idea which stuff I confirmed.

    The problem is that we trust websites too much. Everyone thinks that Facebook is just a funny site to stay in touch with each other. The truth is different. Facebook knows to which sites you go. Not only when you are on the site. When you are logged out of Facebook they still know what you are doing. That’s really creepy, Facebook is always watching you.

  27. I’ve never read all the terms or legal notices of a product or website. It’s way too long and i don’t understand it all. But after this article i should consider to think twice about it and ‘read’ it!

  28. Matti Verhaegen says:

    Just like everyone else, I agree always the terms of agreement without reading them. But is it necessary to read them? I don’t know … I think it doesn’t matter, we’ll always click on ‘Agree’ because we want to make the connection between two or more applications/programs. We don’t want to take to many mains. By one simple click on ‘Agree’, one message can be placed on different platforms at the same time. If we don’t agree, we have to place that same message on different platforms ourselves. By clicking on ‘Agree’, we make it ourselves a lot easier. Why make it difficult, if there is also a simple way?

    Off course, if we agree with the terms of service, the information about ourselves will be spread much easier. Anyone can read it, but we have to deal with it. It’s not going to change. That’s how social media works! And we have to think first, before we send a message into the world.

  29. Ernest Nwanu says:

    I think it’s laughable when people make dozens of accounts on the Internet, only to demand some kind of privacy. Privacy is a thing of the past. Social media and privacy do not go hand in hand.

  30. Nicholas bellon says:

    If your government decides to approve different law bills about the internet (to control privacy etc.) , then you will end up in a similar situation like what has happened in the Philippines. You can land in jail for a simple facebook like (article : So I rather give up my privacy than my freedom of speech.

  31. Jasmien Hendrickx says:

    My dad is responsible for the recruitment of new staff at Belgacom. He tells me that sometimes they don’t hire people because of their behavior on social media. Drunk pictures, complaints about their previous employer, you can name it. I think it’s your own fault; you can control what you share on your profile.

  32. Yolanda Van Mechelen says:

    This is scary to me. I’m a very private person, take a look at my facebook and you’ll agree. There are no pictures, no living area or anything else visible for the eye of people I’m not friends with, or even people I am friends with. So knowing my private data is somewhere on a server and available to a selected group of people scares the hell out of me. It actually doesn’t surprise me that people delete their facebook accounts because of this reason but apparently even when you delete it, it’s still available, scary online world. The internet seems like one big stalker.

  33. Devin Hendrickx says:

    I find this very scary. I post my opinion all the time and sometimes I don’t always know the exact boundary. But I like to experience with it because you can always learn from your mistakes. It’s better that I make them now then in 10 years. Most of time, I think before I post something, because I certainly don’t want to offend people. I hope that none of my maybe ‘stupid’ posts will ever have a negative influence on my life.

  34. It is Bossche says:

    Who reads the conditions of a site? I certainly do not. 1. They change every week. 2. They are lengthy and 3. I don’t know what it says. it’s just not fair and it is time consuming, so just click ‘accept’

  35. Christophe Van Opstal says:

    Privacy is unfortunately a thing of the past in my humble opinion. As we share everything with almost everyone these days a total feel of privacy cannot be guaranteed anymore. That isn’t necessarily an issue though.

  36. Andy Schnell says:

    There is almost no privacy left in our generation. On everything you want to have online you have to confirm the terms of conditions. And i think 90% doesn’t read it so we don’t know what they can do with our data, pictures,…! When we delete our pictures and stuff on facebook, there is still a big part of these things which remain in the internet. But to me i don’t really care about these things because as long as i’m not a criminal what should they do with my pictures and data. the only thing I’m not doing online is online banking, I don’t have a trust in that.

    This article reminds me at the movie “enemy of the state”

  37. Alexander Seibel says:

    Today you have just two options in your life. Either you start a parallel social media life or you dont. There is nothing between. I am using Facebook just for being in contact with friends. It more or less a digital adress-book. If I want to contact someone who is far from me I just dropping him a line and thats it. But as you know, Facebook is much more as a digital adress-book for staying in touch with friends. And that is really scary. Well, whats the way out???

  38. Markus Mutter says:

    I have an ambivalent attitude to the privacy on social media. Facebook is storing all my data even if i “delete” it. That´s for sure not the most honorable thing to do. But why i schould care about that in the end? Firstly it is my own choice which and how much of my personality i give to facebook. Secondly: is it a big problem for me if my data is lying on some facebook server after i deleted my profile but no one can access on it? But on principle, even if i affirm the last question it is to late ..

  39. Christian Graf says:

    I guess if your are spending time with social networks, evereybody should know that companys like facebook, google,… like to have your personal data. Their business is to collect and classify your data for themselve or even for other company. So therefore we know the rules of the game and it is a illusion to keep to your personal stuff safety!!

  40. Benjamin Karl says:

    It’s quite simple: “when it’s free you’re the product” so anyone should be aware that the personal information is used or given to third parties no matter what kind of social media you’re using. Even when you’re using amazon (where you obviously pay for every product you purchase) it collects information on you and you’re constantly reminded to buy the product you just looked at on every website you’re on after.
    Especially when it comes to business life it’s very important to be aware of your posts. It’s so easy to posts something and then it’s one to one to many and if something you said can harm your company it’s a reason to get fired.
    So everything you say on the internet can reach many people, stays for “ever” and might even have a (bad) live-changing influence!

  41. Philipp Notheis says:

    Is there an opportunity to delete things (for example a picture) out of Facebook?
    I am very careful with Facebook, because my data is stored and passed on to third parties.
    I use Facebook, because than I can be with my friends all over the world together. I can see what they are doing and how they are doing.

    Conclusion: to post something online is like a tattoo on the body!

    • Carmen Epacher says:

      I think there is always the risk that the informtion that you share on a social media page can end up in reach of people you don’t want to get this stuff. You should be aware of this and think carefully about what you share online.

  42. Mat Kappeler says:

    I guess those days everybody should knew that platforms like FB or Google stores information about us. For this reason we should be award about what we are posting/ adding into the internet. I personally just upload information to the web which I would for instance tell my neighbor. Information which are private I try to keep out of the web. For sure there are some private files on Dropbox or in my Emails but I try to belief in their privacy policy and hope that they will keep it like that!

  43. Nicolai Lindel says:

    Of course there is always the risk that information, which is “published” in the internet, or via social media can tell more about us and our behavior than we actually intended to.
    It is hardly possible to protect privacy in every field of live. By using my credit card, I leave valuable information. As soon as I`m using my mobile phone, data’s are collected. Using the internet is also providing information about me. In the end everyone needs to be aware about these things and needs to know how to handle this.

  44. Juergen Fink says:

    I also think it is difficult to keep the way of privacy we know from the past. From my point of view the main reason for the “felt privacy” was simply that information was not available and not connectable. There are lots of applications where this can make sense. For instance health informations which should be available at any time with good access protection. I work for the red cross as volunteer in the rescue service. We often have the problem that we should have access to information of people but we don’t. In Austria even hospitals which are operated by the same organisation are not allowed to share data on a digital basis which absolutely makes no sense.

  45. Alexander Ceulemans says:

    “Wether this is legal or not, isn’t completely relevant since 99% are just pressing “I confirm” without knowing what they are agreeing with!”. I totally agree with this quote, and it’s sad. The websites are using the curiosity of the visitors. I think nowadays there should be a lot more education and instructions about managing our online privacy and how to maintain it. Humans are so privacy-orientated in real life but online it seems we have no problems with sharing our personal data. This is a result of the ignorance of many people, we don’t know where our information is going and what conditions we are agreeing with.

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