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Social media and shopping malls

posted Mar 8, 2016, 4:22 PM by GamerDadster Video Gaming   [ updated Jul 9, 2016, 8:14 PM ]
Public Speech, Private Conversations, Social Media,  and Freedom of Speech; can you tell me the difference?

So what is this about really?
Actually, the whole point of this article is to help you protect yourself in the cyber world, and not to
educate anyone on the art of conversation, but who knows?  There are some interesting ways to protect
yourself, and I make no claims that I know everything, or if you do any of these things you will be 100% safe from the evils of the Internet.  First, I will give you an idea of my thoughts on public speech, private conversations, social media,  and freedom of speech.  At the end I will give out a few ideas and links on what you can do to protect your privacy.  If you don't protect it, they (governments, large corporations, evil people) will be more than happy to take it, and then who knows what's next?

Public Speech
So let's start with public speech, public speaking, or public conversations.  There are many definitions, and feel free to look at the wiki version I've provided.  My definition is anything said in a public place between two people.  This simply means you, and a second party, or second person.  Although you would think it is a private conversation, is not, because depending on the country, as a party to the conversation you can record the entire conversation legally.

"Legislation in Canada protects various privacy rights, but does not prevent Canadians from recording their own conversations with others" - source:

If you are talking to yourself, there might be other issues, but even that would be considered a public conversation for all purposes.  My point here is anything said in a public place even between two people should be considered a public conversation.  So if you are walking through a shopping mall and yell out something positive or negative, do you honestly think that it will remain off the public record?

Private Conversations
Interestingly if you search for private conversations you don't get much.  Please don't refer to anything on Urban Dictionary either, that is a completely different matter!  My definition is simple, it can be many people, but I feel that more than one person isn't really a "private conversation".  Even in those circumstances, it may be private now, but in the future will they disclose it?  Are they recording the conversation, who knows?

Here are two interesting articles on conversations, and being overheard.  If you are in NY, be careful, your previous conversations might be here!  The website is called "Overheard in New York".

Social Media
My view of social media is kind of like walking through a shopping mall and yelling out at the top of your lungs everything on your mind; you should not be expecting privacy.  Remember, just because you are at home or using your phone, or just sending information or photos to family or are still using a public service and so you should always consider it public.  Once something has been put on the Internet in any form, it is there permanently.  Data, websites (, traffic, and any connections made are almost certainly monitored. Count on it.  You can be pretty certain that every country does this including Canada eh!

Freedom of Speech
Well, this one is a little more interesting, and everyone has to be very careful.  Although freedom of speech is a right in some countries, not so much in others.  Further, what may be considered normal cultural norms or acceptable conversations, in other cultures may not.  Religion and Politics are top of the list, there is lots out on the Internet about those; here is one example, and here is another on dealing with the subject.

My view on freedom of speech is simply this, if you say something like I am in this article, does it add value?  Is the purpose for education?  Does it directly enrage and inflame someone or some group?  What is the point you are trying to achieve, does it help anyone but yourself?

So privacy and the Internet are almost mutually exclusive, so let talk quickly about encryption.  Think about this, just because it is encrypted right now, does that mean it will be in five years?

Why do I say that, well, Internet traffic of interest is almost certainly capture and archived for future review and decryption.  Computing has changed significantly over the years, errors, bugs, back-doors, and all the other types of vulnerabilities are detected in code everyday.  This now means that the data can be easily decrypted, remember the SSL vulnerabilities of years gone by?  And then there is the matter of this little computer from D-Wave, that Google, NASA, and Michigan State University are working.  I would not bet against anyone who says that this system will kill, is anything on the Internet between two people really private any longer?

What can you do about it?
There is lots of information out there on privacy, my answer is simple:
  • I never give out personal information that is of value.
  • If you find information of mine on-line, are you sure that it is accurate? Does your have to be?
  • Have a second email account for web sites that require an email address to register.
  • If I send something in any manner, I expect that it is now PUBLIC.
  • If I want to talk to someone, I try to meet them and have a real conversation.
  • Post as few personal photos on-line, especially that of children.
  • If you post picture, make sure there is no meta data, especially GEO-location data.
  • Turn off your GPS!
  • And most importantly in my mind: Holidays are great, take as many photos as possible for your memories, but post NONE WHILE YOU ARE AWAY...unless under an alias.  When I do, I have already returned and post them as I go through and have a chance to verify each photo.  This makes the holiday last longer, and gives people of questionable moral less opportunity to hijack your vacation.
Not exactly social media, but related:
  • Never use public WiFi unless in an emergency - make sure you have a firewall.
  • I NEVER do Internet banking.  Tellers need jobs too!
  • Any on-line purchases are done on disposable (refillable) credit cards.
  • EMAIL, all the same rules.  Email is SOCIAL MEDIA!
Here are two related and interesting articles on the discussion above.