For a long time it looked like the Internet was going to be the death of privacy as we know it. Search engine data was collected and shared with companies. Photos were posted to web sites like Facebook or Myspace (remember Myspace?) where they were visible to the entire world. As we began to spend 24 hours a day online sharing all of our information with everyone, our privacy online began to ebb away.
In the last few years there has been a privacy backlash in the digital world. As information has come to light about everything from corporate re-targeting, to government data collection programs, to massive data breaches, many internet users have experienced a new paranoia about their privacy online.
To that end, digital services offering privacy (or at least a semblance of privacy) have exploded in popularity in the last few years. Where several years ago, teenagers took to Facebook to share photos, video and opinion, they now share content like this via services like Snapchat that delete their posts after a certain amount of time and allow them to share with only a limited group of people. Or, they share on a service like Anomo or Whisper.sh that keeps the identity of the posters private.
Even powerhouses like Google have gotten in on the privacy game, allowing users to hide their search data from corporations who would use that data to market specific products to them.
What Will Privacy Look Like in the Future?
All of this is just good business- give your customers what they want. What most internet users want now is privacy just like they have in the real world. The question becomes: is this the future? Can we look forward to a world where all of our data is protected from prying eyes? Or is the current uptick in private online services merely a blip on the radar of history? Or worse, a smokescreen. Many of the services that purport to keep users data private don’t…really. Some put the data behind walls that are often easily breached by hackers, or government agencies with the right paperwork. Also, big data is big business. Companies want user data so they can sell them things. If companies can’t get that digital data, it makes marketing more difficult.
What do you think the future of privacy is online? Let us know in the comments below.