You don’t control the Internet; it controls you

Jay Park, Staff Writer

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  I have never used my Facebook account. The account had no information besides my name. No date of birth, posts, or friends. When I recently logged back on a few months back, Facebook suggested I friend someone I once visited in Seattle, the others suggestions were also people who I knew. I hadn’t established myself on Facebook at all. How in the world did its algorithm make a connection between me and these people?

  It turns out that there is a lot more going on behind our screens than we think. Let’s take our most famous, trusted search engine we know: Google. While Google costs zero money to use, it takes its payment in the form of  our data. While you’re searching for new spicy memes or the latest trending clothes, Google builds up an idea of who you are. They don’t even have to know your name, because your IP address, something that is unique to your device and or location, will be your name tag in cyberspace.

  Your personal search history, even the letters you have deleted before you pressed “Enter,” are branded in the deep web forever. If you think that you have protected yourself by deleting your history or use private browsing, you are wrong. Nothing disappears from Google’s database, you merely delete what you can see.

  It doesn’t end with Google.

  Any website could latch onto you, follow you around, and maybe even take a peek inside your computer, all without being detected like a run-of-the-mill virus would.

That is not the worst of it. You’ve heard of blackmailers who gain access to your webcam and microphone. Doing so is child’s play. Don’t think your life is interesting enough to be spied on? You’d be surprised how often private moments could be used against you. We all must know that we are under constant surveillance. These hacks will make sure we are never alone, the possibility of someone looking in through the window of our computers is ever present.

  Heck, it’s not just hackers monitoring us, so does the FBI. Ever since Sept. 11, the importance of security has skyrocketed. Government organizations such as the FBI and the CIA are on the hunt for terrorism leads. Unfortunately for us, monitoring online users is very convenient in detecting and stopping crime before it occurs, including terrorism. Even though we are teenagers, our activities are still being tracked so they have a large database to investigate when we are adults. When something isn’t visible to us, it becomes less important in our minds, but that is precisely why this one-sided surveillance is done subtly.

  We didn’t asked to be watched. This means we rightfully could, and definitely should, protect ourselves. So what can we, the vulnerable individual, do against these cyber Big Brothers?

VPN, virtual private network, encrypts our data location so we can remain safe and anonymous from websites. The Opera VPN is a free software that will leave false information to stop anyone from getting to your location. You should also check your browser’s settings and disable your geolocation, for this is how these search engines know where you are. Aside from these methods, the surefire solution is to just block the camera; that’s it. Even the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, tapes his camera and microphones to negate any breaches.

 

  Nothing will happen to us if these people cannot see into our living room. This is the world we live in. All devices are a potential window to our private lives. Each and every one of us should know how susceptible we are online. It’s likely that these surveillance practice will continuously become more advanced, and we all should know how to stop it. Because in the end, the right to privacy is ours, and it should stay that way.

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