New Media technologies have proved to be beneficial to society, but, as with all good things, there is a down side. Issues of privacy and confidentiality arise for many people who use these technologies.
First of all, exposing the smallest amount of information about oneself online opens the door to others intruding on one’s life. For example, posting your name and address on any website puts you at risk of being robbed of your identity. Revealing the location of your workplace or hangout spots makes it easy for potential stalkers to find you. Whether you are shopping online or using a social networking website (i.e. FaceBook, eHarmony, etc.), there is no guarantee that the information you provide will not be viewed by someone who intends to use it against you. Sometimes unpleasant things, including identity theft, harassment and stalking, happen to people unexpectedly due to a lack of privacy and confidentiality on the internet. This should come as no surprise considering the fact that information spreads vastly and travels extremely fast online. While the speed and reach is amazing, the internet is also dangerous because of those exact factors.
Secondly, new media technologies such as mobile phones and laptops (which can both access the internet) may be convenient, but it is not difficult for someone to tap into either one. It may sound bizarre, but with today’s technology anyone, even the government, can invade what is supposed to be one’s personal space. For example, hackers can easily create and pass on viruses to peoples’ computers from the comfort of their own home. Hackers can also access almost anything (pictures, history, etc.) that is on someone else’s laptop. As for mobile phones: beside the fact that the Patriot Act allowed the government to tap into peoples’ mobile devices and listen to their personal conversations (and probably read text messages, too), it is also possible that the government can track anyone they choose to. This may not concern many people, but the reality is that this sort of action by the government takes away certain rights that are promised to us by the Constitution. Think about people who are victims to racial profiling, for example; the government may start listening in on someone’s private telephone conversations and track innocent “suspects” whereever they go. More than likely, many innocent individuals were falsely accused and suffered consequences (e.g. stress, jailtime), even though the public doesn’t hear about it. Remember the case of innocent Japanese Americans being imprisoned after Pearl Harbor? Similarly, after 9/11, many innocent Muslims living in the US were accused of being enemies. Except now, with all the new media technologies we have, those who are accused still can feel like they’re being imprisoned, even though physically they are not.
New media makes our lives easier but at the same time can cause inadvertent complications. Whether you choose to expose certain information about yourself, or it is taken from you without your consent, the fact is that your privacy is always at risk as long as you use Internet technology. It would probably be best to keep certain information about yourself confidential and to make sure your new media technologies are secured.