Some Thoughts On Privacy

2022-11-17
  • and also on privacy respecting media.

These are my views on this topic so, a reply with a correction or your view would be highly appreciated. For a different perspective on this topic, check the end of this article.

My Experience

I encountered what privacy is by coming to Linux and interacting with the people of the FOSS community. And It has taught me things that I would not have learned anywhere else. But when it comes to why we need privacy, and why losing some comfort is worth it, I quite can't teach or make it clear to people. I follow the practice to be private on the internet mostly because I agree with the people from the community. I learned about the Gemini protocol, the Fediverse, the Matrix protocol, self-hosting and many more concepts because of the community.

Not using Facebook and mainstream social media like Instagram, Twitter, etc has surely changed the way I think about people and the internet but it also has broken my contact with my family and relatives. I asked the ones who wanted to contact me to install "Signal" and to contact me there since it was the easiest to set up and use for everyone. Though it isn't a perfect replacement for a "social media" like Facebook it has done the job for the most part, at least has fulfilled my basic social interactions.

Here are my thoughts on the positives and as well as the negatives of maintaining/trying to maintain privacy:

The Positives

Judgements

It is an undeniable fact that we judge a person firstly by how they look. If they look clean, wear attractive clothes, has big eyes we seem to make our mind up that they are the kind of friends we want and if anyone has a darker skin color, is wearing oversized clothes, or has imperfections on their face we tend to be far from them. Being and interacting with "anonymous" people on the internet has made me think about our prejudice toward people. Nobody has judged me and I haven't judged anyone but have helped each other regardless of how we look (here on the platforms like mastodon(Fosstodon), Gemini(Station and Geminiverse)). So, one aspect of privacy on the internet that I like is that it minimizes prejudice.

Safety

Maintaining privacy and not disclosing the location of where we live, who our relatives are, where we work and many similar "Oh! it doesn't matter." things will make us safe from the people who "hate" us or our views and may bring threat to us. It creates a virtual chamber where we can settle disputes without physical contact and gives everyone enough time to think and argue about their view.

Tunneled Vision

The internet has lost its position from the place where we gain information about a vast range of topics to the place which agrees with what you like and nothing else. These algorithms in our media collect information about us and feed us what we have an interest in, which may seem to be a very good thing when we look straight into it but behind it, it's not something made for our comfort but for them to increase our watch time in those media and show us as many ads as possible which also are shown based on our interests making us their product to the ad distributors. So, being private and not letting these media collect media helps us to not get distracted by ads and not get tunneled to a certain view as it won't just show what we prefer but also shows us multiple perspectives.

Focus

Not having to care about maintaining an image in the media and being seen as equal by everyone else and treated like everyone else removes many burdens from the mind and helps focus on the subject matter and views instead of branching focus to other unnecessary variables helps (at least for me) to be more productive.

Expectations and Mental Health

Being private on the internet also demands similar people and media thus taking away the people that may create a sense of insecurity, like having expectations of being a celebrity or being "socially accepted beautiful", getting celebrity worship syndrome, expectation for filmy love or romance. Since everything on the internet is not true and mostly tampered with to make it look "good", being private on the internet and using media that respects ones privacy helps a lot in preventing psychological health issues, especially for teens.

More:

  • Decrease in chances of scams and spam,
  • Protection from identity theft,
  • Offers freedom to express oneself, and much more that I cannot think of.

The Negatives

Fame and Recognition

We need fame and recognition to be respected in human society and being famous on the internet has become our priority but internet privacy and fame might not go together so, complete privacy isn't possible. A well thought privacy threat model should be implemented never-the-less to mitigate the threats instead of completely giving up on internet privacy because having fame adds more threats as well as responsibilities.

Connection and Contacts

Losing contact with relatives, friends and family trying to give priority to privacy is one of the most experienced downsides of it. Not everybody understands or cares about privacy and leaving centralized privacy disrespecting monopoly leads to losing contact with people you were in contact with yesterday. Using workarounds to access those media may mitigate the issue but is not a complete solution.

Information Distribution

We have to get local news and information distributed by collage and clubs or the organizations where we work, which mostly are circulated exclusively on the centralized privacy disrespecting monopoly media. This centralized locking of information has been one of the barriers to freedom and internet privacy as well.

More:

  • Being an outcast from a circle,
  • A hassle to manage and keep track of,
  • People try more to exploit you the more you try to be private, and unfortunately, the negatives too don't end here.

Privacy in itself is a very broad subject to be discussed. A single person's view isn't sufficient on what privacy is and what isn't so I expect some flaws in my writing if seen from a different perspective. So, I thought of accumulating everyone's view on it. I also request you include a list of authors and their articles related to mine at the bottom of your reply/article as I have done below. That way everyone who is reading can find every other person's view.

Please send your article to me at @scientiac@fosstodon.org if you wrote a reply so that I can include it on the list below.

Some More Views

Author: Scientiac

On Pseudonymity

Author: marginalia.nu Author: Szcze┼╝uja (gemini://) Re: Pseudonymous Author: usebox.net (gemini://) re: Pseudonymous Author: Lykso (gemini://) why a pseudonym