Disconnect Chrome Add-on

In the face of identity theft for 1.3 million educators made possible by Texas government under Republican control, protecting your privacy by installing a Chrome add-on seems a small step to take…some would say, insignificant. As some point out, privacy is an illusion when you trust online services like Facebook, but perhaps even more so when you consider what’s going on with TRS employee records….

 When you share private information on any online service, you are trusting that service to keep your information private. The catch is that these companies are run by people; people who make mistakes with your data or people who change their minds about how much of their service should be private or public. There are plenty of examples of online services that have been hacked or employees who carry your private data on unsecured devices where your private data has been compromised…The real problem is when people think their data is more private than it is. (Source: Online Privacy is an Illusion)

How do you regain control over what you’re sharing? The animals may already have absconded. And, there’s no help coming from companies like Facebook….

There appears to be a political purge of Facebook taking place. Profiles are being deleted without warning or explanation. In the last 12 hours, Facebook has deleted over 50 sites. It may well be that these groups are technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a “fake name”. But the timing – on the royal wedding and May day weekend – is deeply suspicious. We don’t know for certain, but this purge of online organising groups could be linked to the wider crackdown on protest by authorities in Britain.
Either way, it is a scandalous abuse of power by Facebook to arbitrarily destroy online communities built up over many months and years.  

(Source: Political Purge of Facebook)

But some do distinguish between identity theft level of privacy protection and social networking. Consider this perspective from Andrea Di Mao (excerpts quoted; read the whole piece):

Some people are firm believers in the power of social networking and use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others very heavily, blurring personal and professional profiles and details quite freely. Others are scared to death and do not want to use these or – if they do – they are extremely careful, keep separate profiles, mostly watch and do not participate. Others are somewhere in between…I do see the tangible value of networking, when data points for my research often emerge at the intersection between personal and professional contacts, where the latter become stronger and more solid by sharing a few personal details, especially with people who are very remote and with whom I have very infrequent contacts. 

I am careful about the information I post, but…I have come to realize that, does not matter how careful we are, we are going to lose control of our privacy.

Yet, while privacy may be an illusion for some,  taking small steps does restore some of our confidence in our interactions online. It helps us understand that not ALL interactions online are bad or evil. That we have some measure of control.

Here’s yet another measure, thanks to Harold Jarche for pointing it out via Twitter:

If you’re a typical web user, you’re unintentionally sending your browsing and search history with your name and other personal information to third parties and search engines whenever you’re online. Take control of the data you share with Disconnect! From the developer of the top-10-rated Facebook Disconnect extension, Disconnect lets you: • Disable tracking by third parties like Digg, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo, without requiring any setup or significantly degrading the usability of the web. • Truly depersonalize searches on search engines like Google and Yahoo (by blocking identifying cookies not just changing the appearance of results pages), while staying logged into other services — e.g., so you can search anonymously on Google and access iGoogle at once. • See how many resource and cookie requests are blocked, in real time. • Easily unblock services, by clicking the toolbar button then services (and reloading current pages) — e.g., so you can play games on Facebook.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure