Introduction to Digital Humanities

RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

Goodbye, Privacy…I think.

When Twitter announced that you could now display your birthday on your profile page, people were excited about the balloons that would go across your page. However, it’s just marketing, really. Twitter uses it to provide relevant advertisements for you…and also know you moreĀ about your identity.

The two articles introduced the idea of “metadata” (data about data) and noted that privacy is pretty much impossible to achieve. As Gilliland’s article mentioned, your purchases and Facebook likes can all be tracked. Some might find this horrifying, and I admit that it can be a bit unsettling how much can be tracked. But the thing is, things like Facebook likes don’t have to happen. If you’re that concerned about privacy, you don’t have to post that much about yourself on social media. You can just share the bare minimum…but of course, hardly anyone does that.

We briefly mentioned reposting in class last week, and some people said that anything posted on social media is bound to be stolen. I agree, although I’m not too happy about that. It can be an invasion of privacy when you repost (in my definition, posting someone’s work with a source and/or permission) something. One of my followers on a social media site told me that an online store called Syndrome was using one of my personal photos in the shop banner. I messaged the store about it and eventually the owner took the photo down, but I definitely felt an invasion of privacy. They hadn’t asked me for permission, after all. Although I don’t think it was right for them to use the photo, I know that there will always be reposters out there and that’a an unfortunate aspect of social media that we have to deal with.

You could say that I don’t have to post up any photos as well, and I agree. I don’t have to share anything at all. But social media can help people get their name out; for example, I want to be a a part-time travel blogger and sharing my photos – despite the risk of reposting – can lead to that. I know the risk, but I guess I’ll partake in it anyway and share the information that I’m willing to share.

But hey, maybe I just want balloons to float across my Twitter when the time comes, too.


  1. I liked how you brought up a commonly overlooked detail about websites and businesses track people. That people do not have to provide everything about themselves and are capable of just sharing the bare minimum. I also enjoy that you wrote about how you relate to these ideas of invasion of privacy, so it wasn’t like you don’t have any prior opinions on the topic. I really enjoyed your post.

  2. Thank you for sharing your history with reposting, and how you approached the issue of someone using your work without permission. I think that examples like this tend to push people to be more cautious and tell others to watch what they post online, but I think that a better way to handle this would to be to teach students the proper rights and how to handle digital works so that instead of just taking, they are able to use with permission and everyone is free to post their work and share it without fear of digital theft. It will happen, but we should be free to share our work and should have the right to be credited for it.

  3. Wow I really enjoyed reading your post! I agree that when posting on social media we can tend to forget that our posts and pics can soon end up somewhere else online. It is a scary thought so we must remember to only post things we feel comfortable with being on the web. We never know where our pics and statements may end up.

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